I’m Done Pounding

Celeste BaineFor the last 18 years, I’ve worked tirelessly to promote engineering education by showing it as a way to change the world, the best education available, and a viable career option for girls and boys. In this pursuit, I’ve authored 22 books, published three videos, and founded the Mother/Daughter TEA (Technology Engineering Aptitude) workshop. I’ve run contests for engineering posters, engineering music, and engineering curriculum. I’ve given keynotes and presentations at over 100 colleges, universities, schools, events and conferences. I’ve won five awards for this work and in return, I’ve traveled to every state and experienced the joy of having a custom-made career that gives back. I’m truly blessed and so thankful for the opportunities provided and for the people I have met along the way.

But now the time has come for a new adventure. I’ve decided to chase the Celeste Watch Company dream to see where it will take me. I will be dismantling the EESC over the rest of the school year. Up until July 2017, I will still be available to facilitate the Mother/Daughter TEA workshop, the Engineering Exploration Day and all of my other teacher trainings. If you want to hold any of these events in the Spring, now is the time to get on my calendar.

However, it is my hope that the Mother/Daughter TEA workshop will find a new home this summer with educators who can fan the fire by traveling to hold TEAs and offering Train-the-Trainer workshops. It is my hope that an educator somewhere who wants to earn side-money will take over the inventory of C’s Blast Packs and offer these turn-key solutions as a way to help schools promote engineering. And it is my hope that the work I’ve done has made a difference in your perspective or career.

If you are interested in running with the torch, don’t hesitate to drop me an email.

 

 

Famous Women Engineers

Every now and then, I like to take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come in engineering and technology. Each time I do this I’m completely amazed that I can print things in plastic in my 3D printer, build robots that will follow my instructions and create my own rubber stamps in my laser cutter. I love the Maker and DIY cultures but also respect that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Without the discoveries of the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Below is a short list of famous women who have lead or are leading the way.

  • Heather Knight is a pioneer in the growing field of social robotics which investigates ways in which robots could have an impact on our everyday lives. With degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, she is known as a social roboticist and is constantly thinking about new ways to make robots charismatic, giving them the necessary personality and social skills to interact with humans in meaningful ways.
  • Dr. Catherine Mohr, a mechanical engineer, is developing the next generation of surgical robots and robotic procedures that allow patients to heal faster and better. She is pushing the boundaries of medicine with her research in robotic-assisted surgery.
  • Ada Byron Lovelace collaborated with Charles Babbage, the Englishman credited with inventing the forerunner of the modern computer. She wrote a scientific paper in 1843 that anticipated the development of computer software (including the term software), artificial intelligence, and computer music. The U.S. Department of Defense computer language Ada is named for her.
  • Amanda Theodosia Jones invented the vacuum method of food canning, completely changing the entire food processing industry.  Before the 1800’s, a woman could not get a patent in her own name. A patent was considered property and women could not own property in most states.  So, in a move typical of women inventors of the 19th century, Jones denied the idea came from her inventiveness, but rather from instructions received from her late brother from beyond the grave.
  • Dr. Angela Moran, a materials engineering scientist, conducts research to help assure that metals and other material that make up some the Navy’s most vital equipment (such as aircraft, sea vessels and weaponry) can withstand the stress and demands of their use.
  • Mary Engle Pennington revolutionized food delivery with her invention of an insulated train car cooled with ice beds, allowing the long-distance transportation of perishable food for the first time.
  • Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper in 1903. By 1916 they were standard equipment on all American cars.
  • Beulah Louise Henry was known as ‘the Lady Edison’ for the many inventions she patented in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Her inventions included a bobbinless lockstitch sewing machine, a doll with bendable arms, a vacuum ice cream freezer, a doll with a radio inside, and a typewriter that made multiple copies without carbon paper.  Henry founded manufacturing companies to produce her creations and made an enormous fortune in the process.
  • Hedy Lamarr, a 1940’s actress, invented a sophisticated and unique anti-jamming device for use against Nazi radar. While the U.S. War Department rejected her design, years after her patent had expired, Sylvania adapted the design for a device that today speeds satellite communications around the world. Lamarr received no money, recognition, or credit.
  • Grace Murray Hopper, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, developed COBOL, one of the first high-level computer languages. Hopper is also the person who, upon discovering a moth that had jammed the works of an early computer, popularized the term “bug.” In 1991, Hopper became the first woman, as an individual, to receive the National Medal of Technology. One of the Navy’s destroyers, the U.S.S. Hopper, is named for her.
  • Stephanie Kwoleks discovered a polyamide solvent in 1966 that led to the production of “Kevlar,” the crucial component used in canoe hulls, auto bodies and, perhaps most importantly, bulletproof vests.
  • Ruth Handler was best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, also created the first prosthesis for mastectomy patients.
  • Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar helped to develop the ceramic tiles that enable the space shuttle to survive re-entry. In 1985, she had an opportunity to test those tiles first hand as an astronaut aboard the shuttle.

Comments?

Engineering Exploration Day

sumner4 sumner3 sumner2 sumner1Last weekend I had the privilege of facilitating an Engineering Exploration Day for a school district in Washington State. If you follow my work you know about the Mother Daughter TEA (Technology Engineering Aptitude) workshops. In the Mother Daughter TEA workshop, Moms and their middle school daughters complete engineering projects together and learn about valuable, high-wage opportunities in the engineering industry. They hear about how women are impacting the field and get insight into career opportunities they may enjoy. The Mother/ Daughter TEA event was founded to encourage young women to take an interest in pursuing a career in engineering.

Every year, I hear from parents that also want their boys to have the same opportunity. As a result, last weekend we debuted “Engineering Exploration Day.” In this workshop, we had middle school girls and boys, moms and dads. We stuck to the same model of four hours on Saturday morning and built cranes, flingers and boats. The workshop moved along quickly and everyone stayed engaged. We had a great time.

If you are trying to recruit for your GTT, STEM 101 or any other engineering classes, this is a great workshop to hold because by the end of it, you’ll have the parental support at home that is so critical to students making good choices.

More Information…

Outreach Communication

For us engineering education advocates, when we want to inspire students, the problem isn’t about finding information on engineering careers, locating hands-on activities, or helping students decide which college to attend. It’s more about figuring out:

  1. What is appealing to students (what drives this generation);
  2. How to present the information;
  3. Getting that tailored information to them (books, DVDs, hands-on projects, posters, websites, etc.);
  4. Answering their questions (Will I like engineering? How hard will I have to work?, Is it worth the hard work?, etc.).

To refresh your memory, The National Academy of Engineering conducted a major study a few years ago to address the messages we portray to pre-college students about engineering. Changing the Conversation, the result of the study, states that young people want jobs that make a difference.  Additional recommendations from the research study are as follows:

  • Stop reinforcing the images of “nerdy and boring”
  • Stop focusing on math and science as the needed inputs and instead focus on the outputs, career opportunities, and making a difference in the world
  • Use the word “create” not “build”
  • Use images of people, not things: especially avoid using gears and mechanical looking things
  • Use the following five words in describing engineering: discovery, design, imagination, innovation, contribution
  • Describe engineer as creative problem solvers, essential to health, happiness and safety
  • Emphasize that engineers shape the future

Have you been using the recommendations? With Engineers Week on the horizon, right now is the perfect time to figure out when and how to jump on the bandwagon.

 

Get ready for 2014!

With 2014 right around the corner, it’s time for all of of us to reflect on our 2013 accomplishments and areas that we’d like to improve.

My professional New Year’s resolutions always looks something like this:

  1. Find new ways to communicate the cool factor of an engineering education.
  2. Conspire with other engineering evangelists to find new ways to communicate the cool factor.
  3. Communicate the cool factor to teachers, counselors and parents.
  4. Spread the joy.
  5. Repeat often.

Although my list defies resolution etiquette by not being very specific, it works for me. Sometimes I also add in the margin my definition of “cool factor” just in case I learn new things about engineering and somehow overlay the old information instead of adding to it.

Margin notes: Cool Factor = An engineering education teaches you how to think. You learn analytical, logical and problem-solving skills that help in everything that you do. Consider engineering education as a launching pad to become anything that you want to be. Spatial visualization, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and creativity can be transferred and applied to any field and are excellent tools for the future – whatever your future may be. Once you finish an engineering degree, you really feel like you can do anything.

This is how I do my part in making a better world. If people can spend 8-10 hours a day doing something they enjoy, the world will be a better place.

Happy Holidays!

In Search of an Icon

If we want engineering to be more broadly accepted by mainstream society and the media, we need to define what an engineer looks like. The field of engineering has become larger and more encompassing over time.

Engineers come in all forms.  There are currently 2.3 million engineers, engaged in everything from design to sales to testing, manufacturing, training, and marketing. You can find engineers working in the field, behind a desk, in a production plant, at a customer site, or even on an airplane. Engineers design, manufacture, build, research, write, investigate and present their findings. It’s easy to think of engineers designing rides at Disney or crawling around inside of a bridge to check for stress cracks – we know what that looks like but what about the engineers who don’t design our modern conveniences and structures? How do we show an appealing image of an engineer who is checking air quality or researching new and safer ways to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs?  How do we show students the image of an engineer who is trying to find ways to save animals on the brink of extinction? How do we show an engineer who is working on developing safer foods, less hazardous farming techniques or ways to cut down on crime? That’s a lot of job descriptions and categories to narrow into one icon that defines an engineer.

If Hollywood can make CSI shows look good to students (forensic scientists often study dead people for clues), we can definitely find a way to make engineering look more appealing too. And it starts with an icon or symbol that we can associate with an engineer.

All ideas are welcome!

Engineering Design = Viable Career

Life itself is an endless process of solving problems. When we use the engineering design process, students learn that engineering design, like life itself, is an endless process of solving problems. In dealing with life’s many challenges, successful adults take the same steps as the ones that students utilize in their engineering design experiences such as identifying or stating the problem, brainstorming possible solutions and then developing or building prototypes (trying it out).

According to Cary Sneider, a leading science educator and one of the writers of the Next Generation Science Standards, understanding engineering is essential for all citizens, workers, and consumers in a modern democracy. If the U.S. is to continue to play a significant role in the world economy, it is imperative that students be exposed to engineering design and problem solving thought processes. He goes on to say that the capability to formulate and solve problems is a valuable life skill. By including engineering design in classrooms across the country, students will have access to a wider range of viable careers because they will be prepared to take the appropriate courses in high school. Exposure to engineering design is also an important aspect of equity for girls and minority students.

So get your design on and let’s promote problem solving!

Tennis Ball Design Jobs

In tennis, ball design is a complex subject and a full time job for engineers at tennis ball companies. For tournament play, different court surfaces determine the best type of ball to use. Grass courts such as Wimbledon are the fastest, closely followed by hard, green clay and red clay courts. Grass courts are considered fast because the surface creates little friction. Clay courts are slow because the surface creates more friction.

Balls are also classified as fast, medium or slow. An important consideration for ball speed is the height and type of fabric on the outside. Balls with more fuzz have more air resistance, travel more slowly, and in rainy conditions, the cover material fluffs and further slows the game. Serious players use different felt thicknesses in different altitudes to increase or decrease the air resistance. If the felt thickness flattens in the middle of the game from intense volleying or wear, the ball will go faster too.

Professional players can hit serves as fast as 135 mph. When a ball is hit with that much force, an engineer must understand what happens during the impact. How does the ball deform and how does that affect its resulting performance characteristics? After considerable deformation, can the ball be used the next day? Will it offer the same spin ability or, more importantly, will it impact the present match?

To answer some of these questions, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) uses a “Stevens machine” to compress the tennis balls. Each ball is squash-tested, or compressed, for 10 seconds and then checked for deformation. If the ball does not return to a round shape, it is rejected by the USTA.

Engineers also often test tennis ball aerodynamics in a wind tunnel, which blows air over the tennis ball to determine how the forces act on it. For example, if the tunnel blows air over the tennis ball at 135 mph it simulates a ball served at 135 mph. Wind tunnels provide engineers with important aerodynamic data that would be close to impossible to obtain any other way.

According to Penn, a tennis ball begins its life as a mound of powder that forms the core. The type of play the ball is made for determines the ingredients in the core. For example, the extended life ball has titanium mixed into the powder to allow it to last longer. The beginner’s ball has a softer core to allow the ball to stay in play longer and give the player more control.

The powder is shaped into pellets and placed in a mold that makes half of the ball. Two halves are glued together, or fused, and a machine injects one atmosphere of air pressure. Finally, the ball cover, made of nylon, cotton, felt and wool, is bonded to the core. The balls are then packaged and shipped to the stores.

Tennis ball manufacturing companies most often hire mechanical, materials, chemical, aerospace and manufacturing engineers.

To read more, about careers in the sporting goods industry, pick up a copy of High Tech Hot Shots: Careers in Sports Engineering.

Summer Camp Success!

Robotics Activity

A few weeks ago, I ran a summer camp in Tulsa that simultaneously trained 10 teachers on engineering design while also serving as a summer camp for 34 middle school girls.

How it worked: On Monday, teachers learned several activities while the girls did ice breakers, watched videos and were entertained by other facilitators and several engineering students from the local colleges and high school (PLTW and robotics students). On Tuesday – Friday, the teachers, armed with the activities they learned and constructed on Monday, team facilitated the activities with the girls. When the girls had a field trip to local industry, watched videos, or listened to panel discussions (basically every spare moment), the teachers went back into training. When the girls went home, we refined our activities and hashed out what worked and what didn’t. It was an amazing week lead by amazing people! By the last day, 95% of the girls said they wanted to be an engineer and the teachers went back to class with increased confidence and bundles of materials to implement more engineering education into their instruction.

Inspirational message: Never underestimate the power of a full engaged and committed team of people. They can and will do amazing work!

The Engineering Design Process as a Tool

I’m happy to announce that a few weeks ago, I won the contract to write and develop tutorials, reference and training materials for grade 1 through 12 Oregon teachers to use the Engineering Design Process to be more effective and successful teaching science.

Since 2009, the Oregon state standards have included “Engineering Design” as a core “Science Process Skill” in the curriculum. The term Engineering Design describes the concept of using the practical application of scientific principles to everyday problems as a method for teaching students about science. The documents that I am composing are intended to help teachers understand, and answer the following questions:

  • What characterizes Engineering Design processes and how are they used?
  • What are some good ways to teach students about the Engineering Design process?
  • How can the Engineering Design process be used to:
    • motivate students to learn science,
    • increase the depth of their understanding, and
    • build skills that allow them to use science to solve practical problems?
  • What exercises might be used to familiarize students with the Engineering Design process at the same time they learn science content knowledge?

It’s very exciting to think that I will have a hand in helping all students in Oregon gain a foothold in STEM education. Although the term “busy” is an understatement about my life right now, opportunities like this don’t come around everyday. When the train pulled out of the station, I made sure I was on-board.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress….