Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Cortney Roark | February 23, 2017
Nearly 200 high school students spent their day Thursday building towers and making asphalt at Y-12 National Security Complex.
Actually, they built office supply towers and asphalt cookies at one of the 26 STEM-related booths during Y-12’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering event.
“This event gives an opportunity to girls to engage in conversations with engineers and see all the options for different career pathways they have,” Kristin Waldschlager, CNS educational outreach coordinator, said.
Professionals in chemical, industrial, mechanical and fire protection engineering provided information and hands-on activities for participants. Students could see the Fusion F306 3-D printer at work as CNS mechanical engineer Ben Green explained the process.
A few booths down, the Society of Women Engineers was teaching students the asphalt-making process. It is extremely similar to making no-bake cookies. The liquid used to make asphalt is liquid at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, just like chocolate. Once the rocks are mixed with asphalt liquid – or oatmeal mixed with chocolate – the asphalt cools and hardens, similar to the cookie.
Heritage High School’s Haley Newbert, 16, said the event was a “real shocker” once she arrived.
“I’ve never been to such a wonderful event,” she said. “For me, it’s a great experience, because when I go to college, I want to be an engineer … so hopefully this convention will help me figure out how to do that.”
Throughout the event, students teamed up to participate in a STEM challenge. Each team of four or so students received a bag full of note cards, tape and a stapler. They had 10 minutes to plan and 10 minutes to construct a tower out of the materials provided.
The Sunbright High School team, Caeley Friel, 17, Jaclyn Englans, 15, Jennica England, 18, and Laura Bryant, 18, constructed a note card tower higher than 43 inches – more than enough to bring home the gold.
Anita Hazlewood, a chemical design engineer at Y-12, said the tower construction competition exemplified the core skills in the engineering field.
“Whether an engineer is trying to build something new or fix something broken, at the heart of engineering is problem solving,” Hazlewood said. “Taking limited resources, limited time, limited budget and trying to come up with a solution. So that’s what we’re trying to drive home with this activity.”
Waldschlager said educating the younger generation about STEM-related opportunities is “critical” for Y-12.
“We are really impacted by STEM jobs,” she said. “When we support an event like this it has implications in workforce development, as well as national security. At Y-12, we have a sense of responsibility to make sure we support the development and growth of future scientists and engineers that will be working here.”