News: Tulsa-area engineering camp visits Keystone Dam
Story by Brannen Parrish
TULSA, Okla. – A summer camp focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM careers, visited Keystone Dam to learn about the types of career opportunities offered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, June 18.
Engineers from various disciplines provided a presentation and tour of the powerhouse, bridge and dam to middle-school-age students from Tulsa schools. The summer engineering camp is put on by the Tulsa Alliance for Engineering in concert with higher education institutions in the Tulsa area.
According to Xan Black, camp coordinator, the camp is in its fourth year of exposing students to STEM career opportunities with the goal of increasing their interest in science and mathematics-based studies at an early age.
“We are trying to engage them early because if they never see science and engineering jobs, they’ll never consider becoming engineers” said Black. “What they see on television are singers and basketball players. So, when you ask them what they want to become they say, ‘singers and basketball players.’”
Black said that exposure rather than capacity to learn mathematics is the greatest barrier for students.
“The kids are capable of doing the math but they say, ‘I don’t want to have to take four years of hard math just to be an engineer’ but if we can show them how it all fits into the bigger picture, then they will say, ‘I want to do this in order to have clean drinking water and clean energy’ and they will see that there is a purpose for it.”
Kalli Clark, the Tulsa District’s Deputy Chief of Engineering and Construction, said the spark that started her engineering career occurred when she was a student at Randall High School in Amarillo, Texas, “I made a decision to become an engineer as sophomore, because a group of engineers came to our school to talk to us about engineering careers.”
Clark who went on to major in Civil Engineering as an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University and earned a Master of Science in Engineering and Technology from OSU as well, said the Tulsa District has established a committee to encourage young people to explore opportunities in STEM careers.
“There is a real interest for the District and the Corps of Engineers to encourage young people to pursue STEM careers so that we will have a broader base to recruit from. A lot of people in the Tulsa District have been supporting STEM initiatives on their own time for many years,” Clark said. “We’re also looking at how we can provide more mentoring opportunities for high school students who want to pursue STEM careers.”