November 30, 2018 - In honor of National STEM Day, Sargent & Lundy employees volunteered at the James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club in Chicago to empower local students to ignite a passion and curiosity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). With science and engineering careers growing 70 percent faster than other occupations, the national holiday aims to introduce STEM concepts to students and encourage them to take an interest.
The Sargent & Lundy team shared what inspired them to pursue a career in engineering and discussed the important role STEM plays in their day-to-day work at the firm. They also led an interactive activity for the Boys & Girls Club participants to engineer and construct a tower made of spaghetti and gumdrops. The hands-on activity aimed to help students understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of structures.
“Research shows that young adults develop stereotypical beliefs about math, science, and engineering that are influenced whether consciously or unconsciously by the adults they interact with,” said Liz Mattson, senior mechanical associate for Sargent & Lundy and the organizer of the STEM Day event. “Therefore, it is necessary to create nurturing opportunities for youth to learn about STEM fields; who better than those in STEM careers to fulfill that role?”
In celebration of Illinois' biCENTennial this year, each tower created by the students were tested under the weight of 200 Lincoln pennies and measured to determine the winner of the tallest and strongest structure. The Illinois Bicentennial is a commemoration of 200 years of people, places, and events that have made Illinois proud. The Bicentennial organization has contributed to local initiatives to advance STEM education through its STEM Fusion campaign, a three-year program offered to students at 25 elementary and middle schools in underserved communities across Illinois.
“Fueling innovative thinking and garnering interest at an early age is key to getting bright young students on track for a STEM career,” said Emily Kunkel, senior associate for the firm.
Sargent & Lundy is dedicated to empowering future generations of STEM professionals. As a long-standing Illinois-based company, the firm has made numerous contributions at the local level to engage and inspire students to pursue STEM careers through initiatives such as The ACE Mentor Chicago program, the American Nuclear Society’s annual ‘Girl Scouts Get to Know Nuclear’ event, and The Campaign to Transform University of Illinois’ Mechanical Engineering Building.
A special thank you to Liz Mattson, Joshua Junge, Daniel Skisak, Ashley Briskin, Emily Kunkel, Elizabeth Lamere, and Danielle Flagg of Sargent & Lundy who volunteered and helped coordinate this year’s STEM event.