Engineering Expo Inspires Next Generation
March 9, 2020
E-Expo Gives Students the Chance to Explore World of Engineering
Tours. Research Showcases. Activities. Competitions. Drones. Balsa wood bridges. Rube Goldberg experiments. Student Organizations. Industry partners. Potential future engineers from kindergarten through 12th grade and their parents exploring and learning about the world. A speaker, inspired by man’s first walk on the moon, telling his success story of starting a company to serve the space industry. And of course, a rocket. Engineering Expo 2020, held on Saturday, March 7, at Speed School of Engineering, offered a diverse array of happenings for young engineering enthusiasts.
According to Luke Malone, Vice-President of Speed School Student Council, though, you can define E-Expo in one word. “It’s a celebration,” said Luke who coordinated the event with other Speed School student volunteers. “We bring together so many different people – students from the JB Speed School of Engineering, student organizations who are here, our planetarium is here, different companies, and of course the K through 12 students who are invited – we’re all coming together to celebrate engineering. This is about the future and the next generation. I think events like these are the spark that ignite an engineer’s creativity.”
Freshman Speed School industrial engineering student Tucker Holwerda said his own visit to E-Expo in primary school was his impetus for volunteering to assist with the event. “I went to this expo when I was about 10 and I remember it pretty well. I feel like this introduction at an early age to students about their options can be inspiring,” he said. “I know for me it was.”
The E-Expo day started with the organizational prowess of Speed School student volunteers like Katherine (Kat) Hanson, an industrial engineering senior who helped direct the K-12 students and their parents to activities and competitions, while showcasing the beautiful new Belknap Academic Building. “I wish I had this opportunity when I was growing up,” said Kat.
She said what the young students walk away with from E-Expo is a different perspective on what the world has to offer. “They’re getting a non-textbook version of what engineering is. They are able to see opportunities outside the classroom and real-world applications, to understand that it’s not just math and science, it’s the whole world put together.”
For Speed School students like herself, Kat said the E-Expo is a way to give back to the community and share her passion for engineering. “So many of us are focused on getting good grades, and getting a job, and perfecting our resumes; that we’re really forgetting about giving back to our community,” she said.
“Instead of locking ourselves away, studying calculus for hours, or trying to make ourselves sound like we’re the best candidate for a job, we’re really just being able to come together and be ourselves as students, and really showcase why we love this school, why we love what we do.”
For Willie and Anna, two sixth-graders from Noe Middle School, the event was a fun way to demonstrate the success of their Rube Goldberg experiment. Their apparatus involved Dixie cups, marbles, and a rat trap, tubing, Styrofoam and more, which ultimately led to a small rocket being set off at the end.
The girls said the project, which took five days to bring to fruition successfully, was trial and error and repeat, making adjustments along the way until they achieved their goal. Anna said she really enjoys working with the tools and the scientific method. For Willie, she said it was fun creating the design for the project.
As President of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) senior Shane Lewis’s group did outreach and education by offering the kids a catapult activity. “It’s a great way to show multiple aspects affected with a projectile and trajectory,” said Shane. The Speed School volunteers helped the kids to adjust angles and force to successfully knock down the targets of pyramids of Solo cups. In addition, all the materials used for the activity were 3-D printed. “Everything we made here anyone can make at home with a 3-D printer.”
Kat said E-Expo brings home to her how engineering makes a difference. “We’re able to see how we’re going to affect people’s lives, because they come up to us and say, ‘You’re the reason I want to be an engineer.’ When that one student, that one child, comes up and says that to us, it’s the most rewarding feeling.”