117 seventh graders from STEM Launch in Thornton have received a first-hand look at how multidisciplinary engineering can be, thanks to an outreach fair organized by Department of Mechanical Engineering students.
The Early Engineering Exposure Fair (Triple E Fair) on March 1 was comprised of 16 interactive exhibits to demonstrate diverse engineering fields such as air quality, wind energy, robotics and microfluids. Undergraduate and graduate students studying mechanical engineering volunteered to display some of their own class and research projects.
The middle schoolers tested out each of the exhibits, allowing them to experience what a mechanical engineer does every day.
“All of the exhibits are very interactive,” said mechanical engineering PhD student Austin Hayes, who organized the Triple E Fair. “The students can see different engineering concepts, watch the experiments happen and ask questions. They’re hopefully seeing that mechanical engineering is not just building cars. It’s all sorts of things.”
STEM Launch’s curriculum focuses on problem-based learning to prepare students for their future careers, which makes the partnership with the mechanical engineering students perfectly suited for the middle school.
In addition, one of the most beneficial aspects of this fair was that it was a zero-cost experience for STEM Launch and the seventh graders’ families. It was paid for by a Department of Mechanical Engineering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Grant, which Hayes successfully applied for.
“It’s really powerful to get people engaged, as well as schools who maybe wouldn’t get the opportunity to have a field trip like this from a cost perspective,” Hayes said. “I would love for this fair to become a continual event and grow to more schools so that more students can get involved.”
Hayes is a member of the Committee for Equity in Mechanical Engineering (CEME), whose members helped coordinate the Triple E Fair. Professors Gregory Whiting and Marina Vance were organizers of the event as well.