Students Inspired by Engineers' Day at UNR

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

Reno, NV - At the University of Nevada, graduate students are trying to shatter the notion that engineering can't be fun. In fact, that's all they were having on Thursday.

"Yes, creating ice cream, flicking flowers, flicking stuff," says Jason Hastings, a Ph.D candidate in materials engineering at UNR who was leading a lab lecture. "It's fun!"

About 200 middle and high school students toured the engineering labs and got involved in several demonstrations going on.

In one lab, graduate students were teaching the kids about heat transfer. They did this by freeze-drying ice cream and even showed them how to create chocolate ice cream with liquid nitrogen, milk, and chocolate syrup.

"It tasted like something that the professionals would make," says Hannah Golik, a sixth grader from Eagle Valley Middle School who went on the tour.

That lab was one of more than a dozen going on at the University for Engineer's Day.

It was hard not to notice how many girls were on the tour. The Dean of the College of Engineering says more and more women are getting interested in engineering and entering the field. He says females now account for 20-percent of the undergraduate population at the College of Engineering.

"When I joined the program in 1984, it was less than 5-percent. So we have come long ways," says Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering.

And he's hoping days like this one will inspire more young people: boys and girls.

It seems to be working. Sadie Share, a sixth-grader from Eagle Valley Middle School in Carson City said she had never really thought about a career in engineering before this day. But after getting a taste of the kinds of careers out there in the field...

"Yeah, probably, like chemical engineering like they were talking about," she says. She said she enjoyed listening to the graduate students talk about science. "They make it seem like fun and they explain it so simply and it's easy to understand what they're talking about."

"That's what we're trying to do!" says Jason Hastings, one of the graduate students. "We've got to get more engineers. More engineers means more technology. More technology means better lifestyle for everyone."

This was the tenth anniversary of Engineers Day at UNR.

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