From NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs
Jacksonville, Florida (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast civilians and military personnel participated in the 17th annual Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) 2019 Engineer Career Day, Feb. 22, at the Prudential Building in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.
The annual event introduces high school students to engineering as a career by presenting “hands-on” activities, providing interaction with engineers from the government, private industry, and several university representatives, as well as providing a road map on how to become an engineer.
The NAVFAC Southeast team volunteers each year to help judge team competitions and provide information on careers in engineering to the students.
“I've been judging this competition for seven years now and it has meant the world to me to be able to participate in this event,” said NAVFAC Southeast Chief Engineer Jack McCarthy. “It gives me the opportunity to get out in the community and lets me see the best and brightest of our youth, and the hope and enthusiasm that they bring with them.”
Over 140 students from ten different public and private schools in Northeast and Central Florida attended the event. The day-long competition is co-sponsored by the Jacksonville District USACOE and the Society of American Engineers (SAME) and has been for 16 years. The event is one of the major events of Northeast Florida Engineers Week.
The event challenged student teams to compete in building and entering a take home project, completing a surprise project assigned the day of the event, and completing a trivia challenge.
For this year’s theme, “Navigating Engineering Solutions,” students had to design and fabricate a boat that could withstand various amounts of weight in order to remain buoyant. Volunteer judges tested the projects by placing the boat in a tub of water and counting how many bags of sand it took to sink the vessel.
The surprise project required students to design and construct a ballast contraption that could sink a ball, based on specifications and materials provided to the teams. Each piece of material had a separate weight and cost per item. Teams competed against each other to see who could sink the ball for the lowest cost.
During the event, NAVFAC Southeast Operations Production Officer Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Thrun and NAVFAC Southeast Senior Project Manager Renee Dudgeon, spoke to students about which engineering disciplines they were considering, what colleges they might be thinking of attending, or if they were thinking about a military career. The information booth they set up provided the students information on military and civilian Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers with the Navy.
“The Army Corps of Engineers' Career Day is a great venue for students, that are involved in their school's math and science curriculum, to show off their knowledge and innovation in the area of engineering principles and their ability to grasp real world concepts,” said McCarthy.
The competition promotes STEM and is a national education program focused on preparing the workforce of tomorrow by encouraging students today to focus on these areas of study. The hope is the competition will inspire the scholars’ efforts and energies toward careers in STEM fields in the future.
“Credit should be given to the school programs that support these kids and especially the teachers that show up year in and year out as the team's leaders and mentors,” expressed McCarthy.