Curiosity in engineering STEMs from outreach event

Posted: March 21, 2018

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Middle school students from around central Ohio enjoyed a fun, hands-on introduction to engineering education and careers during a daylong event hosted by Ohio State engineering students.

On February 24, 44 middle school students participated in the STEM Challenge at The Ohio State University. The annual outreach event filled with science and engineering activities was hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), in collaboration with the College of Engineering’s Minority Engineering Program.

“A lot of people, both young and old, do not know what engineering entails,” said David Kormos, one of three event coordinators. “Having that knowledge early on will let students decide if this is for them or not, and it will provide them with some of the knowledge they need to know before applying to schools.”

With a large portion of the attendees potentially being first-generation college students, it’s important to show them that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can be a good fit for anyone, said Kormos, a fourth-year environmental engineering major and SHPE member.

“One of the big pillars of SHPE is community outreach and also making sure that members of minority populations have good access and support to go to college,” Kormos said.

The event provides a great opportunity for underrepresented minority students to work together to achieve their goals and share their passion for STEM, said Ronald Parker, assistant director of the Minority Engineering Program.

“When these groups, particularly NSBE and SHPE, come together in their outreach efforts, we get to witness the beauty and depth of diversity across ethnic backgrounds,” he said. “Collaboration is vital to engineering environments. With global industries and working environments seeking additional diverse leaders, the STEM Challenge serves as an opportunity for our women and underrepresented engineering students to develop their leadership and teamwork skills. It also provides value and insight behind the treasures of collaboration.”

The day’s events took place in five different classrooms in Scott Laboratory so students could imagine themselves taking a class in one in the future.

After check-in, breakfast and a welcome session, the students were split into four groups to complete different hands-on activities, including making ice cream, creating a device capable of protecting an egg during a fall, building an airplane and constructing a tower with marshmallows.

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“We try to introduce them to concepts, even smaller ones like making ice cream, to get the ball rolling and have them be more confident to try and pursue a degree down the road,” said event coordinator Judy Nunez, a third-year civil engineering major and SHPE member.

Throughout the challenge attendees were encouraged to ask both SHPE and NSBE members about their experiences in engineering and the benefits of being a STEM major.

Aleeyah Nurredin, a second-year chemical engineering major and NSBE member, said she hopes the STEM Challenge inspire attendees’ interest in STEM.

“I think it will spark their interest in STEM careers, get them more involved in engineering, and attending other Ohio State STEM camps and College Shadow Day, which NSBE also hosts,” Nurredin, the third event coordinator, said.

The Buckeye engineering students hope that the event will bring more diversity into the engineering field.

“Diversity is important for any field, so that’s why we try to provide them with the access, support and opportunity to come to schools like Ohio State and come to things like this,” Kormos said.

by Zach Konno, College of Engineering student communications assistant

Categories: OutreachStudents