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Students integrate engineering and art for Project BEAD.

Students Found Project BEAD to be a Real Gem of an Experience

The Project Building Engineering Awareness through Design (BEAD) program launched in November with the aim of creating a sense of community among women in engineering while teaching them a real-world skill set.

The college’s Office of Engineering Diversity Programs collaborated with the Her Majesty Design firm and the Earth’s Core rock and bead retailer for bead-making activities that introduce women in high school and college students to the creative, interdisciplinary, and helping aspects of engineering.

Students toured areas of the engineering campus on November 7. MSE Assistant Professor Mariya Zhuravleva welcomed the students to her research laboratory within the Scintillation Materials Research Center (SMRC) and demonstrated the ability to design and make new materials, including synthetic gemstones. They also learned how crystals are made to glow, and how this is used in medical imaging and radiation detection.

“I think that this program provided a great opportunity for students to experience how multidisciplinary engineering is,” said Zhuravleva.

Project BEAD students also toured the Innovation and Collaboration Studio (ICS), hosted by The Maker’s Club and Rachel McCord, lecturer and research assistant professor in Engineering Fundamentals. The visit helped orient them to the lab space prior to their group projects.

“I was able to learn more about the engineering resources available for students at UT,” said Jamie Pouncey, a sophomore in biomedical engineering who enjoyed the opportunity to tour SMRC lab and the use of the ICS facilities.

Students were able to use the studio’s 3D printers to create a focal bead to incorporate into the unique bracelets planned for day two of the project. This allowed them to create an original jewelry design.

“Project BEAD was a creative and fun way to combine the worlds of engineering and art,” said Pouncey.

Marsha Hutchinson of Her Majesty Design was the guest instructor for the activity. She provided an overview of basic jewelry design and materials and helped in the creative process.

“The finished product was a reflection of each participant’s design aesthetic,” said Hutchinson. “Participants were engaging and focused on the project goals. They expressed their enjoyment and desire to continue in the program. It was rewarding to see the finished designs and recognize the success of the program.”

Organizers look to establish Project BEAD as an “outreach-program-in-a-box” for student organizations to recruit women into engineering. Participants enjoyed the mix of creative thinking and engineering planning.

“Project BEAD was very fun to go to on both days,” said Corinne Gerhold, a sophomore in mechanical engineering. “It is nice to go to events like these to see familiar faces and have time to relax after classes. I also appreciated touring the lab, since it helped me be more aware of research happening on campus. I also learned a lot about making jewelry. It was fun to pick out different gems for my necklace.”