YOKOSUKA, Japan— Naval Facilities Engineering Command Far East celebrated National Engineers Week, Feb. 16 to 22, by partnering with Department of Defense Education Activity schools for activities and tours across Japan and with Sailors in Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory.
NAVFAC Far East engineers in Okinawa, Sasebo, Atsugi, and Yokosuka partnered with school children of all ages in 20 activities which included egg drop contests, a cart-distance challenge, a foil boat competition, an aquatic robotic obstacle course, building structures from various materials, and discussions around engineering as a profession.
The 2020 theme for National Engineers Week is "Be a Pioneer of Progress."
"Pioneers walk where there are no footprints,” said Capt. Paul Chan, NAVFAC Far East executive officer. “They innovate and find solutions where none seem to exist. Engineers are pioneers, solving problems from the mundane to the truly complex."
There are more than 200 engineers working for NAVFAC Far East on big projects in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory. This includes a variety of engineering disciplines like civil, structural, electrical, mechanical, and environmental, and architectural.
"I find great value in being a Pioneer of Progress by planting the seeds in the mind of a child of becoming an engineer or architect in the future," said NAVFAC Far East Chief Engineer John Wutzer. “To influence youth to take this direction in life brings me a lot of satisfaction and very much encourages me to continue developing the NAVFAC/DODEA partnership for Engineer's Week and other key STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) events throughout the year.”
The teachers worked closely with the engineers in the weeks leading up to the events to tailor their age-appropriate activities to the teachers’ lesson plans.
“Our mission at The Sullivans School is to educate, engage, and empower military-connected learners to succeed in a dynamic world,” said Dee Britton, The Sullivans School educator who coordinated many activities with NAVFAC for Engineer Week. “We are elated that our partnership with NAVFAC supports The Sullivans School's mission. When our students have the opportunity to interact, ask questions, and engage with actual engineers as they design carts to test for distance, explore what structural engineers do as they build bridges and towers, and test their foil boats, that's when engineering, playing with science comes to life.”
NAVFAC Far East leadership fully supported the opportunities to engage with students during the week.
“Engineers connect people literally and figuratively,” said Chan, who encouraged all engineers who had the ability to do so to spend time building partnerships with the school educators and their students during the week. “The opportunity exists to inspire young minds and forge pathways to develop young engineers as they learn to think creatively and find solutions fit for our future. We leave footprints in the hearts and minds of our next generation during Engineer Week”
NAVFAC Far East engineers have been partnering with DoDEA schools for Engineer Week for many years.
“Our partnership with NAVFAC adds a depth and intensity to the learning experience to the benefit of all involved,” said Teresa Lewis, The Sullivans School English to speakers as other language specialist. “The interactions between engineers and students are so meaningful for the children and just plain fun to watch. We at The Sullivans are extremely grateful for the support that the engineers have shown us over the years.”