Area middle school, high school students explore engineering careers on campus

Students from gifted programs at area school districts got an up-close look at careers they can choose in engineering related fields on Tuesday at Penn State DuBois. The Penn State DuBois Gifted Workshop highlighted the campus engineering programs and focused on the educational opportunities the programs provide, in addition to the jobs graduates qualify for. Nearly 50 students in grades six through 12, from gifted programs at six different school districts, attended the workshop.

"It's never too early for them to explore," said Anne Young, teacher in the gifted program at DuBois Area High School. "These kids are getting hands-on experience with engineering to see if they like it. A lot of kids say they want to do something without ever actually seeing what people in that field do. Here, they're really seeing it. It's fabulous."

Some of the hands-on lessons the students received took place in the campus engineering labs. Current engineering students and faculty demonstrated various processes used in testing metal materials for strength and structural integrity.

"This covers almost all fields of engineering," said professor Daudi Waryoba. "In civil engineering, you're designing things like bridges; in mechanical engineering, you're designing things like propeller shafts, for example. In any case, you have to make material choices; you have to know what the properties of those materials are and what will work best for your design."

Those properties, Waryoba told the students, are studied on the most precise levels possible. To that end, he also described ways in which engineering encompasses multiple disciplines. Waryoba demonstrated a tensile test on a sample of metal material to determine how much force could be applied before the metal broke. He explained, "Things start to fail at the atomic level. We are showing how chemistry and physics come into play. We're demonstrating how it all applies. And we're calculating results with mathematics, which is used in our daily lives in solving problems."

At Penn State DuBois, students interested in engineering fields can choose from an associate degree in mechanical engineering technology or a bachelor's degrees in general engineering with an applied materials track. Graduates learn the skills that are in demand in a variety of industries, including powder metal, design, research and development, experimentation and testing, and manufacturing.

The campus offers programs like the Gifted Workshops to area children in order to help them better prepare for rewarding careers by showing them what is available in education and in employment opportunities.

"We provide these hands-on experiences for middle and high school students to showcase what current students do in class," explained Holli Lashinsky, an admissions counselor who worked to organize the workshop. "We hope the young students realize the opportunities we can offer them, and that they don't have to go far from home to get a quality degree, or to find a great career."

Lashinsky noted that Gifted Workshops are centered on programs that are popular among middle school and high school students. She said, "We focus on program areas that the students in these schools have expressed an interest in. We then rotate through the various programs that students want to know more about."

In the past, other Gifted Workshops have highlighted subjects such as psychology, art, creative writing, and information sciences and technology.

Last Updated November 07, 2013