Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2018

ASCE OC K-12 Outreach Committee

Engineers Represent at Russell Elementary Career Day

By: Janna Lee and Jenny Mital, K-12 Committee

When you were in 6th grade, what did you want to be when you grew up? A pilot? A nurse? An athlete? Few people answer “a Civil Engineer.” To make students aware of engineering as a career option, we presented to five 5th and 6th grade classes at Russell Elementary’s first annual Career Day.

Most students at Russell Elementary have no engineering friends or relatives, so we started with a basic overview of the Civil Engineering disciplines and the education requirements. We followed up with details on our daily jobs: office life, fieldwork, and dispelling the notion that engineers work in lonely isolated cubicles and do boring math all day. The highlight of the presentation involved an interactive demo of a water quality best management practice (BMP). Janna had prepared flower pots with soil and a variety of “pollutants”: sesame oil, paprika, oregano, and corn starch. Student volunteers added pollutants to storm water, which was then filtered by the BMP.

“Wow, it looks like a milkshake,” was the best description of the polluted water, followed by “I’d drink that,” in response to the filtered water, which was blissfully free of the cornstarch and paprika cloud. Jenny followed up with some pictures of flooding and flood damage to show the students the problems that flood control engineers try to prevent and solve. Lastly, Janna closed the presentation with the message to work hard in school and dream big, and the kids were rewarded for their attention and questions with some well-deserved candy.

Engineering outreach events give students a chance to meet real engineers and might open their eyes to their future profession, or inspire them to become the first in their family to go to college. Any student or professional with a Civil Engineering or related background is welcome to volunteer. Email to get involved. Or if your child’s school wants an engineering speaker or activity, get in touch! 

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