Y-12 engineers create enthusiasm, awareness

Posted: April 23, 2015 - 4:35pm

Schools may have been closed during the actual Engineers Week, but Y-12’s engineers persevered and managed to visit schools in four counties in the following weeks.

According to Ahmad Alsharif, 16 engineers contacted more than 1500 students in 10 schools In Knox, Anderson, and Roane counties and Lenoir City. Aimed at all grade levels, the sessions focused on the possibilities and opportunities within engineering.

“Students participated by asking questions, solving problems and working in group activities, all of which gave them a taste of engineering,” said Alsharif.

Faheem Ahmed and Ed Stubbs visited Farragut High School and interacted with three classes. For a hands-on activity, students worked together to build a straw tower as shown in the photo. The objective was to build the tallest, free-standing structure with the materials provided—straws, tape and yarn.

Ahmed says “The purpose of the straw tower was to allow students to balance the limiting factors engineers deal with on a daily basis—design, cost and schedule.”

Ahmed notes it was interesting to watch the students complete the activity. The teams typically began by assigning tasks to maximize time. As time began winding down, the teams would assess how their building compared to the other teams. Following this assessment, the students would either remain conservative with the design process or begin taking more risk to win the challenge.

In addition to raising awareness and creating enthusiasm about careers in engineering, these Y-12 engineers were also rewarded. Alsharif said “the students and teachers really appreciated the visits.” Adds Ahmed, “I found that interacting with the students and learning from them were most rewarding.”