CURENT Hosts "Tomorrow's Engineers Today"
November 2nd, 2012
Twenty-six high school girls arrived on the University of Tennessee's campus with an idea of what engineering was.
"I've always been interested in engineering," said Lenoir City High School sophomore Haylee Hicks, "but I thought it was more about sitting at a desk pushing buttons."
Needless to say, after four hours of exploring labs, asking questions to a panel of UT engineering students, and taking part in hands-on engineering challenges, Haylee and the rest of the group had a new perspective.
"It definitely made me more interested after seeing the hands-on side and seeing the accomplishment of what engineers can create," said Hicks.
The program, called "Tomorrow's Engineers Today," was organized by UT's chapter of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and CURENT. Girls from Lenoir City High School, West High School, and L&N STEM Academy were all on campus to take part.
Students started the day with a tour of UT's newest engineering facility (and the home of CURENT), the Min H. Kao Building. They then interacted with robots in both Dr. Lynne Parker's Distributed Intelligence Lab and Dr. Itamar Arel's Machine Intelligence Lab. The last tour before lunch was in Dr. Fran Li's Smart Home Testbed Lab, where the girls got to control electrical outlets from their smart phones.
During lunch, four engineering undergraduate students hosted a panel discussion so that the group could get answers to any questions that they had about college, job opportunities in the field, and UT's engineering programs.
To wrap up the day, the girls got some hands-on lab experience designing marshmallow/toothpick bridges and working with fuel cell and solar cars from TN-SCORE (Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education).
This program aligns with CURENT's educational outreach initiative to assist in the creation of a new generation of engineers from more diverse backgrounds.
The program was organized by Dr. Chien-fei Chen and Adam Hardebeck from CURENT, Yidan Lu, Janelle Dunn, and Kathryn Dudzinski from SWE, and Joshua Francois and Angela Gilley from TN-SCORE. Ph.D students Mike Franklin, Bob Lowe, Nicole Pennington, Qinran Hu, Seth Lawson, Carlos Gonzales, and Adam Lindsey also helped with the lab tours and hands-on activities.