Youngstown Students Participate in Engineers Week Activities at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown State University students gathered Tuesday at the Frank and Norma Watson Team Center in celebration of Engineers Week, the yearly event founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951.

More than 200 Youngstown City School District students in grades five through eight will come to the university this week to view a variety of presentations put on by YSU engineering students. Presentations include the Penguin Baja Racing vehicle, concrete canoes that float, rockets that stand 6 feet tall and fly to 10,000 feet, 3D printed airplanes, combat Battle Bots and more.

Hazel Marie, professor of mechanical engineering, is one of the organizers of the program.

“It’s to celebrate engineering for the week and to reach out to our future generations of engineers,” she said. “What YSU engineering is doing as part of this is coupling the engineering students with all the different disciplines of engineering students with Youngstown City School District to be able to pass on the college level to the middle school level.”

About 60 fourth- and fifth-graders will have attended from Tuesday through Wednesday, said Marie. On Friday, 120 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will also be attending, she said.

All of the students are associated with the school district’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program.

Bridget Lambright-Tommelleo, left, the STEAM curriculum supervisor for the Youngstown City School District and creator of the STEAM program, and Hazel Marie, professor of mechanical engineering at YSU.

Although Engineers Week is an annual event, Marie said this is the first time the university has paired up with the school district.

“I do believe this is the biggest event between Youngstown and Youngstown City School District at this age level in YSU’s history and in the Youngstown city history,” she said.

Marie said in previous years, the events were kept at university level, where various engineering disciplines would have competitions.

Graduating senior engineers also participate in the Order of the Engineer Youngstown Chapter this week, where they take oaths to serve the public, as well as a STEM expo.

“We have always done those things,” Marie said. “This is the addition.”

About seven projects were presented Thursday.

Arowen Major, a fifth-grade STEAM program student, attended Tuesday’s event. She said she hopes to be a doctor when she grows up.

“Right now we are in music, but we were building rockets with a 3D printer,” she said. 

Through her time in the program, Arowen said she has learned a lot about 3D printing.

“I am really open to learn anything,” she said. 

One of the stations Arowen attended was the rocket station.

“They [the projects] are pretty cool,” she said. “I was just talking to see what I could do.” 

“If you want young people to pursue careers, then you have to expose them to them,” said Bridget Lambright-Tommelleo, the STEAM curriculum supervisor for the school district and creator of the STEAM program. “You have to expose them young, and you don’t want to just have someone come in and tell them. You want them to be able to play and see how engineering plays a role in their life and get them thinking.”

Tommelleo said she hopes that not only will the program influence students to pursue careers in STEAM fields later in life, but also gets them interested in going to school in Youngstown.

The STEAM program at Youngstown City Schools is about 2 years old now, Tommelleo said. 

“The focus is tapping into young people’s creative side,” she said. “What we try to do is train the teachers on how to teach science, technology and math, but also integrating the arts and tapping into the creative side of our students.”

Tommelleo said students in grades K-5 can be involved in the STEAM programs, with additional services available once they hit middle school. She said the goal is to get children to start thinking about what they want to do when they grow up and make long-term, impactful decisions. 

Tommolleo said this week’s events were put together after YSU mechanical engineering alumni John Puskar said he wishes he had these types of opportunities when he was a young student. 

In addition to their projects, Tommolleo said each of the presenters speak about why they chose to go to school at the university, why they chose engineering, what they hope to do with their degree and how they got to the point they are at today.

“It’s nice because they are still young,” she said. “Kids want to hear from young people they can relate to and may look like their big brother or their big sister. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Pictured at top: YSU engineering students put on a presentation for Youngstown City School District students.

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