Article About 2012 ECD, by Shane Arrington
(printed in The Parthenon)
From The Parthenon (WV): SAME shows high school students engineering possibilities
Article By SHANE ARRINGTON
Marshall University and the Society of American Military Engineers Huntington Post provided local high school students the opportunity to submerse themselves in the world of engineering during the 19th annual Engineering Career Day on Thursday. Sophomores from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio gathered in Marshall's Memorial Student Center where they were exposed to local and regional professional engineering companies who took the time to provide demonstrations for the students.
Jeff Huffman, engineering professor at Marshall and a member of the SAME Huntington Post board of directors, said it's important to bring these young minds to events like this and share all that engineering has to offer. "The United States is getting behind on producing good quality engineers," Huffman said. "With the infrastructure of the U.S. getting in worse shape, we need people to be able to rebuild it so we can have roads, bridges and dams that work properly." Huffman also said it's a bonus to Marshall to have this event there. He said it's good for students in the area to know Marshall has an engineering program, and anything that helps grow the program is a great thing.
A Fairland High School teacher agrees with Huffman on the importance of exposing young students to possible futures as early as possible. So much so, he's been bringing students to this career day for 10 years. "I think it's a great opportunity to expose the students to the different engineering fields," said Dan Webb, physical science and chemistry teacher. We need engineers for everything. From medical devices to medical procedures, iPods, TVs, bridges and just about everything else. Without engineers, we wouldn't have any of those things."
Along the walls of the large conference room, engineering companies covering a variety of specialties, as well as Marshall and West Virginia University representatives promoting their programs, gave presentations of their work to the students. One Ohio student said he was impressed with the event and emphasized how it was an eye-opening experience for him and his peers. "I think we were all fairly interested in engineering before coming today," said Ryan Vansteenburg, South Point High School sophomore. "Most of us are in higher math and science classes. I'm really here because engineering is everywhere. I think it is very important to our society."
Keeping the students interested throughout the entire event can be challenging according to Huffman. He said a speaker with a few posters and nothing more risk having students simply walk by. Then he pointed to a man in a bright yellow/green shirt, white hardhat and safety harness. "He doesn't have that problem," Huffman said. "The reason I go all out is when I was in high school, I had someone go all out for me," said Rodney Holbert, civil engineer with Burgess and Niple. "I've had a great career in engineering thanks to her. I'm here because I owe her. She helped me so maybe I can talk to one kid about civil engineering who look think 'wow, that sounds like something I want to do' or even 'you know, that's not for me.' No matter what they think is fine, the point is to find something you love and you'll always enjoy your job."
After all the students were done making the rounds of the booths and seeing all the demonstrations, Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) provided the keynote address. He loosened up the crowd by talking about his love of old video games - and the fact few of the students would have played his favorite game, Pong. Then he moved into reemphasizing what had been discussed all day, the importance of engineering. "When I was your age the big talk was landing a man on the moon, and, by golly, we did it. We did it thanks to engineers," Rahall said. "From the immensity of space, the universe and heavenly bodies - to nanotechnology delving into the smallest recesses of the human body - the principles of engineering science operate."
The importance of engineering was a common theme spoken and demonstrated by those involved in the event. A U.S. House Representative, Marshall University professors, professional engineers and even high school students all said they considered it a great opportunity to attend this event.