The engineering design competitions are part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) conferences. This year, Corps engineers and support staff will serve as judges and speakers at the STEM competitions.
“We're concerned that more kids aren't getting involved with STEM and this is a chance for us to work with them and show how much fun solving problems using STEM skills can be,” said Capt. Brent Vance, Walla Walla District’s STEM coordinator, said. “We really need to have enough people involved in these fields in the future, and EWeek is a good way for us to get out and interact with the next generation.”
The Walla Walla District will help schools test bridges that students will build using a variety of materials. Rules for the competition include constructing bridges out of toothpicks, popsicle sticks, dental floss and water-soluble glue. Each bridge will be judged on its efficiency rather than its overall strength-to-weight ratio.
When asked about the some of the challenges that students might encounter once they begin to build their bridges, Capt. Vance said, “Working with glue and popsicle sticks, the challenge will be in the preparation. With science, you want to research and experiment, and as long as they stick with that model, I think they'll work through all the setbacks before the competition.”
The competition and STEM Conferences encourage students to problem-solve, use ingenuity, be creative and rely on each other as a team to build their bridges objectively and conceptually.
“I think young people bring a fresh perspective to solving problems like this. I have no idea what kind of solutions we’ll see, but that’s what’s neat about it,” said Vance, “there’s no wrong answer; it’s just whatever they find that works.”
The Corps of Engineers’ mission is dedicated to serving the Nation. EWeek is one of many opportunities that the Corps takes to give back to the community and help inspire future engineers. For more information about National Engineers Week, go online to www.discovere.org <http://www.discovere.org> . To learn more about the Corps of Engineers and its mission in the Walla Walla District, go to www.nww.usace.army.mil <http://www.nww.usace.army.mil> .
NOTE TO MEDIA: Media should contact the following school personnel to arrange for media access to cover these events: Ms. Lynne Kuntz at 509-525-3030 at DeSales High School, Ms. Elaine Hinshaw at 509-525-1050 x234 at Walla Walla Valley Academy, and Mark Higgins at 509-526-6716 at Walla Walla Public Schools.