A team from Jacobs Engineering Group in Conshohocken stopped by Colonial Middle School (CMS) and Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) to give students a taste of what it's like to be an engineer.
"The reason why we should share engineering with kids is because everything that we touch and wear and eat and play with and play in took an engineer to create," said Nancy Zanni, an engineer and project manager at Jacobs. "In every kid, there's a little engineering. Maybe we can pull it out of them so when they grow up, their careers will be in and around engineering."
At CMS, the engineers spoke to all of the eighth graders through two large assemblies. The team works for Jacob's Advanced Facilities Group and explained how they specialize in creating buildings for Life Sciences projects (like the medical and pharmaceutical industries), as well as described the wide variety of engineers involved in their work.
"I really liked how I met new people and got a deeper understanding of being an engineer," said CMS eighth grader Christian Westawski.
In addition to showing some behind-the-scenes elements from the building projects Jacobs produces, the team talked about some of the qualities that make for a successful engineering work environment. Inside Sales Coordinator Emily Martik brought up volunteers in pairs from the audience for a demonstration on the value of good communication.
"I really like doing the demos." said Ms. Martik who works with Structural Engineer Kim Musey on the demonstrations. "It's fun for the kids. That's where they get to get their hands dirty and learn and really get a taste for what it means to be an engineer."
Volunteers for a second demonstration used different sized paper hoops to make gliders and explained the thinking behind their designs before seeing whose glider went the farthest.
"I liked how in engineering you can put your mind to it and make yourself think about what you're going to do," said Margaret Tomassetti, a CMS eighth grade student.
At Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, the team from Jacobs visited students in the Engineering 1 class, talked about their roles applying different engineering to building projects and the students to build towers that maximized height, strength and aesthetics.
"When we were working on the towers, I thought it was all about how strong the structure was," said PWHS Junior Mohammed Al-Hebshi. "When we got evaluated, I learned that how the structure looks is also really important. You have to balance everything."
The tower project reinforced how communication and collaboration are important for engineers in the workplace.
"Probably the biggest thing I got out of the project was the importance of teamwork," said PWHS 10th grader Ambrose Belton. "We had to figure out roles, who would be the leaders, who would manage the materials and who would build."
The National Society of Professional Engineers started National Engineers Week in 1951 in order to highlight the contributions of engineers and encourage students to learn math, science and technical skills.