Tomorrow’s Engineers Learn Critical Thinking at College of Staten Island
At first glance, the summer workshops at the College of Staten Island (CSI) involving 20 Staten Island high school students look like a lot of fun as the mechanized LEGO® Mindstorms® kits they are constructing take shape.
Upon further inspection, you see that they are also learning the essential elements of engineering, and the basic concepts of the scientific method, thanks to the $5,000 grant from National Grid (formerly known as Keyspan) that made this program possible.
Courtney Haney, who is going into her sophomore year at Moore Catholic High School, says, “It’s teaching us extra stuff. When I grow up, I want to be a singer and major in the performing arts, but it’s always good to have extra stuff under your belt. In case that doesn’t work out, I can move on to the next thing. I might find that I want to move on to engineering.”
Jerrod Alleyne, who will be a junior at Port Richmond High School this fall, agrees that the workshops are broadening his horizons, “I like it. It’s teaching me something different and giving me more variety in what I want to do.”
Ronald Baker, who will be a sophomore at Curtis High School, notes, “I’ve been learning a lot about engineering—what it does and how it makes stuff work better, like microchips and microcontrollers, how to control mostly everything we use every day.”
The workshops even encouraged at least one student to think seriously about a career in engineering. Describing the workshops as “an amazing experience,” Elizabeth Aboaba, who will be in her junior year this fall at Curtis High School, was initially thinking about going into banking, but now she thinks that she might want to become an engineer.
The summer series is hosted by CSI’s Liberty Partnership Program, a collaborative college-school-community-based project that provides a broad range of instructional, enrichment, and support services to at-risk students and their families.
Neo Antoniades, associate professor of Engineering Science and Physics at CSI and workshop leader commented that the workshops are important because studies show high school is an ideal time for exposure to engineering.
“The idea was to first teach the students a little bit about what engineering is and what engineers do,” continued Antoniades, who holds two U.S. patents with three others pending. “Engineering design, like scientific methodology, is a way of thinking and approaching everyday problems in the world of engineering. This starts by teaching the students how to understand the problem, doing the appropriate research, and brainstorming before actually putting the ideas together and synthesizing the problem.”
“National Grid supports initiatives that inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in math, science, and engineering—core skills that play a key role in our business,” commented April Dubison, Community Relations Manager for National Grid. “We are happy to work with Liberty Partnerships Program to help foster an interest in young people to be science and technology leaders of the future.”#