[flowplayer src=’https://csitoday.com/wp-content/uploads/video-player/assets/video/natgrid_2010.mov’ width=320 height=180 splash=’https://csitoday.com/wp-content/uploads/video-player/assets/images/natgrid_2010.jpg’]Students from Port Richmond, Curtis, Susan E. Wagner, and New Dorp high schools recently had a unique opportunity to come to the campus of the College of Staten Island and learn various aspects of engineering, thanks to National Grid’s “Engineering Our Future” initiative. This unique workshop was sponsored by National Grid in partnership with the College’s Liberty Partnership Program (LPP).

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Loretta Smith, National Grid director of corporate citizenship, said: “National Grid is taking action through ‘Engineering Our Future’ to inspire youth and attract and develop engineers to make sure there are enough engineers in the future workforce. We are happy to partner with organizations like CSI and the Liberty Partnerships program to encourage students of all ages and backgrounds to study math, science, technology, and engineering in order to create a corps of smart, dedicated, and highly trained engineers to build the next-generation energy delivery system, including smart grids and other emerging high-tech systems.”

During the workshops students studied diverse engineering concepts such as airplane design and flying (aeronautical engineering) that included building and flying their own model planes; digital circuit design in which they performed several hands-on exercises in the laboratory that taught them about modern circuits and applications (electronics engineering); and fabrication in which they built their own chassis for technology applications using engineering techniques in the fabrications lab (mechanical design and engineering).

As part of the aeronautical engineering exposure, the students learned how to fly planes using a realistic simulator kit on a computer before they actually went out and constructed and flew a model airplane. As a result the students gained an appreciation for the concept of simulation in engineering.

Shawn Landry of the Liberty Partnership Program, commented “The students participated in the workshops in small teams and in addition to experiments, they learned problem solving and project management skills to complete their tasks. The ability to learn and achieve a tangible goal in each session influences the student’s confidence as well as competence. Several students involved want to become pilots and one an obstetrician. This program gives students the ability to come out of their comfort zones, explore different career paths, and meet other students from different schools and communities. Each opportunity to have an experiential learning experience is another step toward defining their dreams and turning them into goals. This was the third and final workshop series funded by National Grid and the impact on self-esteem and career exposure to our students has been phenomenal.”

Landry also underscored a deeper meaning for the workshops for these students. “At this time of severe recession, CSI LPP and National Grid have continued their commitment to working with students and providing them with the academic and life skills they require to overcome societal boundaries of poverty and racial disparities and inequities through a series of Workshops exploring Engineering as a career path. The opportunity to be exposed to Science, Technology Engineering, and Applied Math (STEAM) career paths is priceless; these workshops give the students an experiential learning experience where they are introduced to aeronautics, physics, and engineering in a practical environment.”

For its part, National Grid is taking action to address the challenge of the impending critical shortage of utility engineers over the next five years. According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Power And Engineering Workforce Collaborative, over the next five years, approximately 45 percent of engineers in electric utilities will be eligible for retirement or could leave engineering for other reasons. The company’s innovative and comprehensive “Engineering Our Future” initiative is designed to inspire youth and attract and develop engineers. National Grid already has invested more than $3 million in this program to target students of all ages and backgrounds to encourage them to study science, technology, engineering, and math, collectively known as “STEM.”