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Cottonwood Heights Journal

High school students learn engineering offers variety, creativity, advancements

Feb 22, 2022 07:53PM ● By Julie Slama

Granger High and Granite Technical Institute senior Hayden Young examines a prosthetic leg during the high school engineering career day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hillcrest High junior Amber Parker wanted to get a glimpse into potential future careers in engineering, specifically aerospace engineering, so she was excited to attend high school engineering career day.

“I learned how engineers got into their positions and specifically what local companies are doing in the engineering field,” she said. “It’s pretty interesting.”

Parker attended sessions presented by Boeing, VPI Engineering and the University of Utah.  Other presenters came from Ottobock, Rocky Mountain Power, Horrocks Engineering, Hunt, Reaveley Engineering, Comfort Systems USA and Salt Lake Community College, which hosted the half-day conference for mostly high school juniors and seniors from the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys.

Canyons School District Career and Technical Education District Coordinator Patti Larkin said that the focus of the fair was to provide about 250 students with possible career opportunities within the engineering field.

“They’re getting to meet all different types of engineers, make those connections, and understand their specific pathways,” she said. “We hope students can see what is needed, so they have the opportunity to get an internship or a job shadow and set their path of study toward their career.”

Taylorsville sophomore Danna De Leon said she learned a range of engineering.

In Ottobock, she learned about the different prosthetics made with 3D printers ranging from snowboarders’ knees to swimmers’ ankles.

“They test different varieties, adding weights, forces or whatever is needed to make improvements,” she said. “In the Boeing session, I learned some of the ways they designed commercial airplanes.”

Granger High and Granite Technical Institute senior Hayden Young, who wants to become a biomedical engineer, also attended the Ottobock session.

“I’ve learned composites are a very big part of it,” he said. “With engineering, designs may start on paper then move to CAD (computer-aided drafting). Designs can be improved for better comfort, better manufacturing time, better about anything, to help solve or improve what is needed.”

Murray High Work-Based Learning Coordinator Brady Smith said the 15 students who came from his school appreciated being able to interact with industry professionals.

“Our goal is to connect the students we work with to the career paths they can continue down once their time is completed here at Murray High School and this is a great opportunity for that to happen,” he said, adding that some students appreciated learning about the Luke Skywalker Arm that is being worked on at the U of U to the engineering careers at Rocky Mountain Power.

Brighton High senior Amelia Ackler said she appreciated the robotics session she attended.

“They could make it walk, dance, and do all sorts of cool things through coding,” she said.

She was with freshman Audrey Fleckenstein who said that through Reaveley Engineering, she learned how engineers perform a series of tests on structures.

“They were designing buildings and tested them and reviewed to ensure their designs would withstand earthquakes,” she said. “It isn’t just a one-time test, but over and over again.”

Brighton sophomore Stephanie Guzman De La Haz said she learned about heating and cooling and the laws of thermodynamics in the Comfort Systems session.

“I hadn’t heard of it before; it was actually really interesting,” she said.

Olympus senior Ben Walston said he’s considering a career in mechanical engineer and through the conference, he learned more about what was available through his sessions with VPI and Ottobock.

“It’s amazing and just fun to see how they can make something that is needed through their eyes and creativity,” he said.

Having a creative mindset in engineering was what many students discovered that day, said Brighton High Work-Based Learning Facilitator Eileen Kasteler.

“Engineers are thinking innovation from health care to video games, so this day gets our students thinking if it’s a good feel for them—and reflecting upon that long after the visit,” she said. “It’s a glimpse into the future of wanting to see what there is. It opens their eyes.”