The EESC’s New Director

Carolyn is a maker and fixer who is comfortable dismantling car engines!

At the beginning of the last school year, I wrote to tell you that I was leaving the EESC to chase other adventures and explore new realms of creativity.

Finding a successor wasn’t easy. The next director had to be passionate about engineering education, resourceful, ambitious, upstanding, dependable, technologically savvy, and just all around a good person. After much talk with many people, I found Carolyn Helm. She is the perfect fit to carry the torch and make it burn brighter. She has what it takes to expand the activities, books, workshops, kits, fun stuff and everything else that will make the center a fantastic resource for everything related to engineering and STEM education.

Carolyn Helm has worked for the Southern Regional Education Board for the past 18 years. She helped to develop and grow Project Lead The Way from programs in 23 schools to thousands of middle and high schools across the country. Her current focus is assisting career and technical teachers and administrators to develop and sustain problem-based instruction and institute research-based best practices in CTE schools.

She has presented and conducted workshops at numerous national and state conferences including:

  • High Schools That Work
  • National Association of State Career and Technical Directors
  • National Association of School Superintendents
  • ACTE

Early in her career Carolyn designed facilities, curriculum models, and operational plans for both high school and middle school Model Engineering Academies. In fact, her granddaughter attended one of the middle school academies and decided to become an engineer! Carolyn’s variety of professional experiences such as electrical estimating and manufacturing engineering, along with her graduate degree in Educational Leadership as well as her innate love of “making things work” have made her uniquely qualified to take the helm at the Engineering Education Service Center.

You’ll still hear from me about once a month for most of this upcoming school year and you can still ask me questions about engineering careers.

I’m leaving you in very capable hands. Have no fear, Carolyn is here!

An Engineer Must Engineer

I’ve been running the EESC in Oregon for 13 years. But the company arose from ashes in Louisiana four years before it officially opened. So yes, for 17 years, I’ve been promoting an engineering education as loudly and as often as possible.

But no matter how much we, as professionals, enjoy what we do, everyone needs to recharge. Professors take sabbaticals, most of the world takes vacations and entrepreneurs start new businesses. I’m taking a step back from the EESC right now with the hopes of taking two steps forward in the future. I’m looking for inspiration that I can bring back to the company.

In life, I crave color combined with precision and beauty. I like beautiful machines, gadgets or devices that move or surprise. That’s probably what drew me to engineering in the first place. Thinking back, my first interest in engineering, (even before The Six Million Dollar Man – my biomedical inspiration) was to become a watchmaker. The consistent rhythm of a clock or watch was comforting.

electroplating2Two weeks ago, I opened Celeste Watch Company. The goal was to make artistic timepieces that are precise and elegant. To infuse more color and technological design in a wrist watch. I wanted to make wearable art using mixed materials on the dial or face of the watch that you don’t normally see.

The learning curve has been enormous – more so that I ever thought possible (but that’s what I wanted.) However, there is a peace that comes over me during the process. Something that happens during design, fabrication and assembly that makes me feel like I’m in a groove, doing what I’m supposed to be doing at exactly the right time. I handcraft the dial with my laser cutter, electroplate vibrant colors in the cases and background of the faces, and sew the leather bands by hand. I smile every time I make one.

But never fear, the EESC isn’t going anywhere. In fact, you can expect to see more “time” related activities in the future – starting with “Pacing a Pendulum” in The Big Book of Engineering Challenges. And how about a kinetic sculpture kit? If it’s based on time, you will probably see it here very soon.