Engineering Awareness Day: Inspiring the engineers of tomorrow

Austin Lampky, Staff Writer 

 

On Feb. 26, 2020, Saint Martin’s University’s engineering school opened its doors to a few Western Washington schools and prospective future engineering students for their Engineering Awareness Day event. 

As described by Saint Martin’s in a schedule for one of the visiting student groups, “Engineering Awareness Day is a celebration of how engineers make the world a better place. We are celebrating Engineers Week; the purpose of it is to ‘Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers,’ and ‘bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.’”

Over 60 visitors, including students and some accompanying adults, showed up to the event, coming from different schools in Western Washington. Four institutions signed up to attend: Montesano Jr-Sr High School, Timberline High School, Pope John Paul II High School, and Olympic High School. 

The event kicked off at 8:50 a.m. on the third floor of Cebula Hall, and began with an introduction from David Olwell, Ph.D. He shared some concepts and experiences, as well as the general setup and schedule for the event. At the end of his remarks, Olwell also highlighted two concepts he wanted the students to “take away from the day” – though he said originally there were three things, the third escaped his mind: “Engineering is cool, and I can do it!” and “Saint Martin’s is a cool place to be an engineer.” 

Following the introduction by Olwell, visiting students broke off into five groups, labeled A through E. According to the schedule, students then spent the time from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. moving from one station to another. Saint Martin’s faculty, including professors, operated each station, with five in total. The two stations for Capstones and Environmental studies were located in the School of Engineering building, while the other three; the robotics lab, gaming lab, and concrete testing stations, could be found in the Panowicz Foundry for Innovation, and the E.L. Wiegand Laboratories. 

After the students had gone through each station, they were to reconvene at the School of Engineering Building and enjoy a provided “box lunch” as it was termed, even though Olwell stated, “I hesitate to call them box lunches.” 

This was not the first year Engineering Awareness Day festivities have been held at Saint Martin’s. According to the university’s official website, the same event was hosted in 2019 on Feb. 27. The 2019 celebration had a very similar structure, where students briefly toured various stations and saw what the school had to offer; though that turnout surpassed 2020’s, with “over 150 students from eight high schools.” 

Reaching even further back in time, an article from Thurston Talk cited Saint Martin’s involvement with an Engineering Awareness Day event in February 2015. The article explained how, “Engineering Awareness Day is part of [the] year’s annual Engineers Week, or EWeek, founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to ensure a diverse, well-educated, future engineering workforce by increasing the understanding of technology careers through various events designed for schools, businesses and community groups.”

With another Engineering Awareness Day under its belt, Saint Martin’s engineering school continues the mission of inspiring the next generation of engineers, and showing how the university can better educate and engage young minds in the field of engineering.

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