By Frank Whitman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Public Affairs
ASAN, Guam (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas engineers celebrated National Engineers Week from Feb. 20 - 24, by visiting Guam students to talk about the significant contributions of the engineering profession.
The engineers presented and conducted science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) demonstrations for more than 3,000 students at more than a dozen Guam schools.
"We want to make sure that kids of all ages have a chance to experience engineering early on - to pique their interest," said NAVFAC Marianas Construction Management Engineer Lt. Jeremiah Smith. "Engineers are definitely going to be needed in the future. We're going to constantly be improving the infrastructure, constantly improving the utilities. Without future engineers, we'll just see everything start deteriorating."
Smith was the school presentation coordinator for NAVFAC Marianas, and gave several presentations himself.
At Andersen Middle School, he facilitated a bridge-building activity during which teams of seventh grade students were guided through the process of building a bridge of plastic drinking straws between two stacks of books. The strength of each bridge was then measured by putting pennies in a cup on the bridge; the winning bridge held 190 pennies.
The purpose of the activity was to "show them that engineering can be fun," Smith said. "It's just a good chance to give them an idea of what they can do later on in life and the opportunities this can present to them."
Promoting diversity and building an inclusive engineering community leads to better engineering. "We need as many different minds thinking to solve problems as we can get because every mind is different," Smith said. "You can have 15 people look at a problem and have 15 different solutions; eventually you're going to combine all those solutions to get the best outcome. The more bodies you have thinking on it, the better product you're going to have at the end."
Naval Base Guam Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Director Lt. Cmdr. Henry Suter gave a similar presentation to students at Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School on Naval Base Guam. His presentation emphasized the creative aspect of engineering.
"Engineering is also art; if you want to change the world, you've got to think of a new way to do things," Suter said. "I wish I'd had somebody do this when I was going through school -- talk about the importance of engineering and the achievements of engineering. It's engineering that's going to make the world a better place."
The Engineers Week activities are closely tied to McCool School's emphasis on STEM subjects, according to Debora Moore, the school's gifted resource teacher. "If we want to create children who can build and design, and design their own future, we have to make sure that we're focusing on providing what they need to learn, which are the STEM subjects," she said. "It's quite a push to make sure that students learn about engineering so we are happy to participate in this event."