Estructure Teams up with Engineers Alliance for the Arts to Volunteer in High School Classrooms.
July 17, 2018
Many Estructure engineers volunteer to work with Engineers Alliance for the Arts (EAA), a non-profit with a goal to teach high school students about the art and engineering of bridges during a ten-week education program. Working with students in the classroom, Estructure’s professionals teach an engineering curriculum and guide students through a design and construction process that is very similar to a real-life bridge project. The design professionals are present each week to help the students prepare for a competition at the end of the program and also lend some insight into the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry. Estructure engineer Darrick Hom has served on the EAA board of directors and as lead instructor for over 17 years. In addition, Alix Kottke, Megan Leon, Chiara McKenney and Margaret Villamil have all spent numerous hours mentoring high school students.
Students learn the principles of bridge engineering while preparing for the competition. Each student team designs and constructs a scale model bridge that meets the requirements of a design scenario under the guidance of Estructure professionals. The bridges are made of basic materials but must be strong enough to hold a 5-pound brick. The students rely on their own creativity to design their bridge and guidance from the engineers.
The culmination of the program is a competition where student teams compete to win a design contract at an annual awards event. Each team gives a presentation on stage in front of friends, family, and other competing teams. Each team must demonstrate the functionality and aesthetic appeal of their bridge in a clear, concise, and professional manner. This project gives students a great opportunity to develop oral and written communication skills and learn a technical subject while exploring the boundaries of their creativity.
Estructure Engineer Chiara McKenney has been volunteering her time in the classroom for over 4 years. She has worked with students at El Cerrito High School and most recently was the Lead Instructor at Nea Community Learning Center in Alameda. Chiara says, “As an instructor, it’s fun and rewarding to introduce high school students to basic structural engineering concepts and the processes of design and construction. For students who are already excited about architecture or engineering, the program often strengthens their interest in the fields. My favorite part though is seeing the project awaken an excitement for engineering in a student who would have never otherwise considered architecture or engineering as a career path, typically because they don’t see themselves as “a math person”, or because they haven’t been exposed to it before.”