Gannon University’s Mechanical Engineering Day

Posted: March 14, 2014

Students in Gannon University's mechanical engineering program are holding a day to introduce JoAnna Connell Elementary School students to the field of mechanical engineering.

Through an American Society Mechanical Engineering (ASME) Diversity Action Grant, about 35 students in the ASME and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapters at Gannon University are welcoming about 57 seventh and eighth grade students from JoAnna Connell Elementary School to participate in Mechanical Engineering Day Friday, March 14.

The middle school students will hear from Scott Steinbrink, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, William L. Scheller, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business, and senior mechanical engineering students Erika Schmidt, president of Gannon's SWE chapter, and Sheldon Addis, president of Gannon's ASME chapter. They students will also partake in activities throughout the day to introduce the concepts of mechanical engineering, including building small boats and tall towers from unconventional objects, and learning how to keep an egg from being the victim of a car crash.

"These activities allow the students to have fun while experiencing Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully influence the students to pursue and explore engineering, and other STEM
fields further," Schmidt said.

Addis explained further, "The ultimate goal of the day is to put the idea of engineering in the students minds, so that in the future we can gain a few more engineers whether at Gannon or a different university."

The JoAnna Connell students were chosen to participate in Mechanical Engineering Day due to the school's location within Gannon's Erie-GAINS reach; it is also a part of the College For Every Student (CFES) program.

Jim Rutkowski, CFES program director, said, "One major goal of CFES is to expose the students at a young age to the idea of attending college, what college life is like, the types of majors and activities that happen on a college campus and, most importantly, to have these young students make a connection with a real-life college student. These types of exposure get our kids thinking that, 'Yes, I can be a college student and I know what I need to do to get there.'"

CFES was started in Erie elementary school about five years ago. "We are now seeing an increase in the number of students from our CFES schools are being accepted at Collegiate, Prep, Villa and Mercyhurst, all schools with a good reputation for preparing students for college," Rutkowski said.

Dr. Steinbrink also attributed the day being possible to the ASME Diversity Grant. "The purpose of the grant is to encourage young students to consider engineering as a field of study by specifically reaching out to public schools to bring in that diversity," he said.

Those involved are looking forward to the day and recognize the importance behind its purpose. Addis said, "It is important for Gannon and future engineers to try to stimulate students into choosing a career in the science fields. The science fields are some of the fastest growing and most promising fields, so it is important to introduce students who wouldn't consider the field or who don't know what it is. By bringing them to Gannon, we are able to introduce them to engineering at a young age and hopefully show them how much fun it can be."

Interview and b-roll opportunity between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 14 with students and faculty member, Dr. Scott Steinbrink, Gannon University Mechanical Engineering Department, in the Waldron Campus Center. Please contact Haley Figurski at 823-1886.