September 29, 2015

Local students participate in “Engineering Day” at NCI

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Local middle school students are discovering what it takes to succeed in the world of engineering through hands-on learning and conversations with engineers from Eastman.


New College Institute (NCI) hosted groups of students from Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School, Laurel Park Middle School, and Martinsville Middle School for “Engineering Day” this week. Carlisle School is scheduled to send students for this event at a later date.


“It is important to expose area students to local professionals and engage them in hands-on learning so that they can explore a wide range of career interests including engineering,” said Steve Keyser, NCI coordinator of community engagement.


During “Engineering Day” students began by learning about certain aptitudes and interests that make for a successful engineer from John Hatchett, Virginia State University faculty and Academy for Engineering and Technology (AET) professor. AET is a program that allows high school students to earn college credits in engineering. AET is hosted at NCI for students in Martinsville-Henry County and hosted at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research for students in Danville and Pittsylvania County.


“Many students enjoy science and math, but students interested in engineering must also be able to think creatively,” said Hatchett. “It’s not as simple as plugging in a formula. Engineers have to be innovative problem solvers.”


After reviewing engineering principles in energy conservation, students participated in a hands-on activity by “designing” a roller coaster within a group. They faced the challenge of understanding the relationship between kinetic and potential energy to make their roller coaster a success while collaborating with their peers.


Students also toured NCI’s advanced manufacturing high bay to learn about equipment that engineers may use in the field. “The machines were so large! It was amazing to learn how they produce something so precise, even to the micron level. I had always thought about being a marine biologist in the future, but now I am interested in designing equipment that could be used to explore the ocean floor,” said Sarah Kallam, eighth grade student at Laurel Park Middle School.  


“Engineering Day” concluded with students participating in a question and answer session with various engineers from Eastman. These engineers shared insights from their educational path and work experiences. 


“I think it is exciting to help these young students learn more about engineering and hopefully find a career that they can enjoy and be passionate about,” said John Genualdi, chemical engineer at Eastman.

"NCI provided an opportunity for students to see how math and science are used in everyday life through engineering.  John Hatchett and the Eastman engineers did an amazing job showing the students how engineering affects us in almost every aspect of life.  The Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing program that NCI, Patrick Henry Community College, and Eastman have partnered to create is a must see for our students," shared Andy Adkins, math instructor at Martinsville Middle School.