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PHS students benefit from "Ask an Engineer Day”

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PHS students benefit from "Ask an Engineer Day”
Posted on 09/26/2014

Portland High School’s three engineering classes recently hosted a group of professionals from the engineering and manufacturing fields. The engineers inspired the students by talking about their work on such vital projects as bridges, concert halls, jet engines and naval ships.

The 10 professionals included representatives from Bath Iron Works, Cianbro, IDEXX Laboratories, Casco Bay Engineering, the University of Southern Maine’s Department of Engineering, Safran Aerospace, and Infinite Services Inc. During the Sept. 19 event, the guests presented their work, discussed their educational background, and offered advice and insight to students, both in a panel format and in small discussion groups.

Questions the engineers fielded from students included one on how their work contributes to making the world a better place.

“If I don't do my job well, people die,” responded Carolyn Bird of Casco Bay Engineering, who designs the structure of buildings to ensure they don’t collapse. Another panelist, engineer Vince Quintana, described creating heat resistant, wearable computers for firefighters that allowed them to see walls, objects and people in a room full of smoke. All of the panelists agreed that being an engineer requires a strong moral compass.

The engineers also offered students such advice as: “Take lots of math;” “Don't feel like you are locked into doing one thing your whole life;” “Learn as much as you can about other cultures;” and “Never stop learning.”

Ask an Engineer Day was developed and organized by Portland High School's Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering Committee. The community connections and professional resources provided by the PLTW committee members bring valuable relevance and depth to the engineering students in the PLTW classes. Project Lead the Way is a national nonprofit that provides quality, project-based engineering curricula to high schools. Portland High School's PLTW classes are funded in part by a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.