Even a late winter snow storm and a 5-inch snowfall didn’t stop the enthusiasm of the presenters or five high schools that participated in this year’s Engineering Day at Kinzua Bridge State Park, hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Justin Dickey, P.E., an environmental engineering manager in the Northwest Regional Office at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, was excited to share his love of his chosen profession with 15 students who are deciding if engineering might be the career path for them.
The small group of young women and men from different backgrounds and areas began the meeting with a hands-on, team exercise -- build an approximately 2- to 3-foot-high structure with index cards and one short piece of tape. The structure had to withstand the weight of a small stuffed animal. The ice-breaker activity brought out the competitive spirit of the participants, and got them engaged in using basic engineering skills. With the picturesque view of the Kinzua Sky Walk outside the classroom windows, the activity also meshed well with the much-discussed history and engineering feats associated with the Kinzua Viaduct, which was “once the world’s longest, highest railroad bridge.”
Following the team exercise, engineers from disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, chemical, and civil/environmental engineering talked about the type of engineering they perform and their career path. Most of the presenters included personal information, such as the size of their high school graduating class, where they went to college, and why they chose the school they did. And most importantly, they talked about why they chose to become an engineer, and why they’re glad they did.
Justin said many of the presenters were drawn to the engineering profession because of their personal interests around water and wanting to protect it in a meaningful way.
While not every student there that day intends to further their education by entering an engineering program, every student was given enough information to make a more informed decision. Justin looked at it this way: “If just one student left convinced about their career path and wanted to become an engineer, the day was a success!"