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Celebrating the Engineering Profession During E-Week

Making your own lip balm and stacking cups so they don’t fall—that’s engineering?
Indeed, it is—as more than 200 high school girls discovered on Thursday at the Society of Women Engineers’ National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at the University of Miami.

Those fun-learning activities helped illustrate the analytical thinking and critical reasoning skills every engineer needs to succeed. The students also toured laboratory facilities at UM’s College of Engineering and listened, enthralled, as Cynthia Gundersen, CEO of AMU Engineering, talked to them about her career path to leading a NASA-affiliated design and development firm.

This year’s celebration of National Engineers Week (E-Week) included the signature event of the UM Society of Women Engineers chapter and many other activities focused on the goal of E-Week, which is to highlight the contributions the engineering profession makes to society. It is celebrated annually during the third week of February to honor President George Washington, an engineer.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was just one of the E-Week at the U programs that brought pre-college students to campus. Approximately 300 high school students from around South Florida kicked off the week on Friday, February 17, by participating in Build It, a design competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. At Build It, Sebastian the Ibis welcomed the students and Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was the morning keynote speaker.

“You are the future of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—and you will be the ones to build and improve our world,” Carvalho told the audience.

Other daily programming included the Graduate Engineering Student Council’s poster display session, which gave every engineering student an opportunity to see how researchers share their results. Eager throngs of undergraduates avidly listened to graduate students explain their work—showing just how important such efforts are for engineers developing new technologies and products.

Later in the week, the Biomedical Engineering Society hosted a Biomedical Industry Night with a panel discussion led by several noted alumni, followed by networking for students and professionals in the biosciences. The UM Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers welcomed UM President Julio Frenk and College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet to a forum on STEM diversity—an evening devoted to supporting the ongoing efforts by senior leaders to build a culture of belonging and excellence for every student.

The UM chapter of engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) hosted a programmable engine Raspberry Pi design competition, and Engineers Without Borders wrapped up the week with a shoreline cleanup day, proving that engineering makes life better around the world and in our own South Florida back yard.

Of course, no E-Week is complete without fun, and the Society of Hispanic Engineers welcomed all students to a picnic for the U “familia.” The Institute of Industrial Engineers Dunk Tank was, as always, a welcome and fun way for students to unwind on the Engineering Green.

Bardet has a simple, yet profound, message for everyone who participated in National Engineers Week: “You’ll have the power to make a difference. By becoming an engineer, you solve problems that are important to society. Engineering is a ‘helping profession’ and as an engineer you can clean up the environment, develop new medicines to make life better for those who suffer and solve problems to make the world a better place.

“But what really matters,” he said, “is that you’ll get to do societal good on a local and global scale.”

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