Published: April 7, 2023 By

180 middle schoolers from STEM Launch in Thornton, Colorado, had the chance to see first-hand how awe-inspiring engineering can be, thanks to an outreach fair organized by the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Early Engineering Exposure Fair (Triple E Fair) on April 7 comprised 18 interactive exhibits that showcased diverse engineering disciplines, including mechanical, civil, materials science and biomedical engineering. Undergraduate and graduate students volunteered to display some of their class and research projects at the event.

The seventh graders tested out each of the exhibits, giving them an understanding of what engineers do every day.

To kick off the event, Associate Professor Wil V. Srubar gave a talk that recounted how he became fascinated by civil engineering and how he has developed an algae-based form of concrete, which has the potential to reduce environmental pollution caused by construction activities around the world.


The seventh graders listened attentively and had no shortage of questions for him after he finished his talk.

“The Triple E Fair presents engineering in a way that middle schoolers can understand,” said PhD student Austin Hayes, who organized the event. “But almost more importantly, it’s about inspiring them.” 

The curriculum at STEM Launch focuses on problem-solving and prepares its students to enter fields in science, technology, engineering and math. The Triple E Fair is a perfect opportunity for students to see their classrooms come to life.

Additionally, the Triple E Fair was free for STEM Launch students and families. The event was funded by the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Grant, which Hayes successfully applied for.

“Science and engineering are for everyone,” Hayes said. “We want to get these students excited to become the next generation of engineers.”

Hayes is a member of the Committee for Equity in Mechanical Engineering (CEME), whose members helped coordinate the Triple E Fair. Professors Robert MacCurdy and Kaushik Jayaram helped organize the event as well.