Mentoring relationships with more seasoned professionals are a key part of building successful engineers. The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) outreach program has taken this strategy and applied it with local elementary students in an effort to build future engineers from a young age.
ISE and Green Magnet STEM Academy (GMA) have been outreach partners since 2019, and in 2021, alum Chelsea Hooker (‘21) and Assistant Professor of Practice Laura Knight expanded this relationship by adding a creative mentoring program for fourth graders. Each Friday, ambassadors from ISE go to GMA to spend lunchtime with a group of fourth grade students. During that time, the ambassadors and the students discuss ‘engineering topics’ and what it is like to pursue a STEM career and be an engineer.
The elementary students are consistently engaged and enthusiastic about the visits, as are the college students! Conor Koesterman, graduating senior in ISE, said GMA’s environment that aspires in math and science gives the opportunity to peak students’ curiosity and excitement through activities. The most exciting part, according to him, is empowering them to make their own decisions in the problem-solving process.
ISE works with Sandy Morris, Magnet Facilitator at GMA, and current fourth grade teacher, Caitlin McAloon, to regularly assess the effectiveness of the program, and how to improve the value of the interactions. Initially the program sought to simply provide exposure and increase the comfort level with engineering as a career, but as the relationship progressed, the GMA students have grown from wanting to know how things are made to seeking opportunities to try out engineering applications. Each week, the GMA and TCE students look forward to sharing their time, and the next topic, together, and future engineering student potentials grow.