High school hopefuls test engineering mettle

In Campus News, News

A bridge made out of spaghetti is stronger than most people think. High school students across the nation are challenged to design and construct a load-bearing bridge made of only a half a pound of spaghetti and epoxy, a thermo-setting resin that forms a tight adhesive.

This is one of the many projects that must be completed during Engineering Innovation, an intensive four-week summer course for high school students held in the Engineering and Computer Science building beginning July 5.

Engineering Innovation was developed by Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, to build skills in engineering and expand on basic information on the subject.
Through the program, high school students assess engineering concepts by applying their knowledge of mathematics and science to labs and hands-on projects.

During the course of the project, each student achieves a greater understanding by attending college-level lectures and generating solutions to open-ended problems and testing theories.

“The idea is to explore engineering careers and to motivate young students to major in science technology engineering and mathematics,” said Assistant Dean at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Victor Delgado. The Engineering Innovation’s mission is simple.

They want to increase the number of youths who pursue STEM education and careers across the country, particularly women, minorities and other underrepresented groups.
“We definitely would like to increase the number of women and underrepresented ethnicities such as Hispanics and African Americans,” said JHU Assistant Dean for Engineering Education Outreach, Christine Newman.

Through partnerships with local schools, youth-serving non-profit organizations, local corporations and faculty, the Center for Educational Outreach works to make a broad impact on the community and create effective, scalable, sustainable programs.

“We want to break down the barriers in our society and allow the engineering profession to be open to everyone,” Newman said.

The academic enriching course includes a rigorous program that gives students the opportunity to apply math knowledge and participate in hands-on applications with projects that include building a bridge out of spaghetti, a mouse trap made with paper and rubber bands, robotic devices and more.

“The program is meant for students to explore possible career paths in engineering and computer science,” Delgado said. “It really exposes them to resolve and think through the process of being an engineer, because the concepts learned can be used in real world situations.”

The curriculum is designed to impact the engineering students while in high school in a way that will motivate them to engage in a STEM major once they reach college.

“There is a big push for STEM majors with multiple programs that advocate STEM education. Engineering Innovation is a good opportunity to learn the skills necessary to achieve in school,” Delgado said.

Nearly 90 percent of Engineering Innovation graduates study engineering or science in college.
Binod Tiwari, assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department, will be instructing the Engineering Innovation students this summer. This will be his third time teaching the course.

“It is a very intense course from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. that is well designed by JHU,” Tiwari explained. “I lecture in the morning and, in the afternoon, they build what was discussed in the morning.”

Tiwari said that his students have a higher chance of being accepted at an Ivy League college, or any desired university, if they are part of the program.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but the students really enjoy it,” Tiwari said.
By taking a college-level course while in high school, Engineering Innovation students are able to earn three transferrable JHU engineering credits with a final grade of only an “A” or “B.”

“It is a very good transition course from high school to college because it prepares students to experience the pace of a college course,” Tiwari said.

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