Introducing High School Students to Engineering

High school students at the AIChE Being an Engineer outreach event at The University of Texas at AustinThe McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering recently partnered with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) to host an outreach event on UT’s campus for more than 100 high school students.

The event, titled Being an Engineer—Creating a World that Works, introduced local area high school students to engineering and how engineers help change the world.  Astronaut Al Sacco, the first chemical engineer in outer space, was the keynote speaker and engineering professionals, faculty and current engineering students held a panel discussion.  High school students had the chance to ask questions and interact with engineers during a networking lunch. They also took a tour of campus, led by current Texas chemical engineering undergraduates.

“Our aim is to expose students to engineering education and the impact they can make if they pursue a career in engineering,” said Virginia Sommer, AIChE outreach program co-chair. “Outreach events like this are often the first time young students have the chance to meet or talk to an engineer, and the experience can shape their future. Hopefully, this program will be a seed for others like it, in order to provide more students with this wonderful opportunity.”

High school students watching presentations at the AIChE Being an Engineer outreach event at the University of TexasAIChE representatives were in Austin for the organization’s 2015 Spring Meeting and took the opportunity to host an outreach event with one of the nation’s top chemical engineering programs.

“Texas is a great hub for engineers, and hosting an outreach event with the state’s flagship university and top-ranked chemical engineering program was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” said Sommer. “The event had lots of interest and strong attendance— hopefully many who attended will go on to become engineers.”

Jenny Ostos, internships and scientific review committee chairperson of the John Jay Science and Engineering Academy, said the program allowed students to learn that a degree in engineering can lead to many different career paths.

“The event was a wonderful opportunity for students to hear about opportunities in Chemical Engineering at UT and to differentiate chemical engineering from the other disciplines of engineering,” Ostos said.

AIChE has several different outreach initiatives and hosts numerous related events across the country annually, specifically targeting K-12 students, disadvantaged minorities and women.

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