Stanford Grad Students Share Engineering Passion with Middle, High School Students
- By Joshua Bolkan
Recently, dozens of middle and high school students from California's Bay Area visited Stanford University to learn about engineering concepts through hands-on classes.
Dubbed See Mechanical Engineering (SeeME) and in its second year, the event also aims to expose young students to diverse role models — Stanford's graduate engineering students — in STEM fields. In fact, it was a pair of graduate students who launched the program. Ohi Dibua and Zach del Rosario, both of whom are studying mechanical engineering, started the event after a similar one-day program led by Stanford Professor Gianluca Iaccarino in 2016. Iaccarino's program was for students from one middle school class, but Dibua and del Rosario scaled it up to include students from several classes in middle and high school.
Eighth graders try to mix a stratified fluid without stirring it to simulate how hard it is for the ocean to mix while graduate student Michelle DiBenedetto looks on. (Image credit: Mason del Rosario)
Dibua had previous experience with a similar program as an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh. "I enjoy engaging in the community, and I want to keep doing that throughout my career," said Dibua, in a prepared statement. "Kids are more fun than adults."
Sadaf Sobhani, another mechanical engineering student, served as the program director for SeeME this year after being an instructor last year.
"We're a diverse set of teachers, and that motivates us. We all wish we had this when we were in high school," Sobhani said, in a news release. "I feel I have a responsibility to help inspire interest in STEM learning, especially in groups underrepresented in this field."
A team of 20 students ran the program, from recruiting the middle and high school students to creating and teaching the classes and even providing transportation to the Stanford campus.
Six classes were offered, with each attending student able to attend two. Classes covered bird flight biomechanics, desalination, cardiovascular flow, ocean mixing, vehicle dynamics and computational mathematics.
"I came here believing that engineering was only about cars, motors and machinery. I discovered that engineering could be used in anything," said one student in a review.
The Stanford students plan to continue with the program for a third year in 2019. "Our goal is to inspire students and get them excited about engineering, and we all have a strong passion for that," said Sobhani in a news release.
Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.