Local students participate in Engineers Week events

  • Published
  • By Kali Bradford
  • AEDC Public Affairs

Neighboring middle and high schools participated in Engineers Week activities that took place at the University of Tennessee Space Institute, or UTSI, and Arnold Air Force Base, headquarters of Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

Engineers Week ran from Feb. 18-24 and included a MathCounts competition, held before Engineers Week on Feb. 3; Student Design Competition; Engineer-For-A-Day program; and Engineers Week Banquet. Coinciding with National Engineers Week, the festivities were held to provide students with the opportunity to apply math and engineering principles and to learn about the wide range of engineering careers at AEDC.

Middle school students had the opportunity to participate in the MathCounts competition held at UTSI. The university also hosted a Student Design Competition where 10th, 11th and 12th grade students designed, built and tested a payload launching device made up of odds and ends of household materials. The students then competed using their constructed launchers.

“The students who participated really got into the competition and came up with unique devices,” said Paul Kelly, retired AEDC engineer and Engineers Week coordinator. “They enjoyed themselves, and the faculty members who came with them really enjoyed watching them use their knowledge and creativity.”

Forty-six high school juniors and seniors participated in the Engineer-For-A-Day program. Following a tour of the base, students were paired with base engineers. Twenty-three AEDC engineers participated in the day of mentoring where they gave students a close-up view of the day-to-day work life of an engineer. They also answered questions regarding the engineering field.

Concluding the week of activities, an Engineers Week Banquet was held at UTSI to celebrate the week.

“The banquet program included brief recaps of the week’s events,” Kelly said. “The highlight of the banquet was the talk given by guest speaker Todd May, senior VP for KBR’s Science and Space business unit. May also served as the director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and worked for NASA for a large portion of his career. His topic was titled, ‘The Value and Danger of Space for Humankind.’ He presented the good and the bad of space for us here on Earth.”

This year’s Engineers Week event was the first held after a four-year hiatus due to COVID. Kelley said he was pleased with the turnout of students and participation from AEDC personnel.

“I was excited by the response to the Student Design Competition and to the Engineer-For-A-Day program,” Kelly added. “After a four-year break, we weren't sure what kind of response we would get. Students who participated in these various events had good interactions with many engineers, and some will become part of the engineering workforce of the future.”