| For Immediate Release |
May 17. 2005
Even The Busiest Engineers Find Time To Mentor
Future City Students
Like most engineers, Kate Hamilton is plenty busy. But, when asked to mentor middle school students in the NationalEngineersWeekFutureCity Competition TM, Hamilton – a mechanical engineer with her own firm in East Longmeadow, Massaschusetts, who also runs a farm, works as a computer consultant, is an avid rock climber, and a single mother with an eight-year-old daughter – was only too happy to volunteer.
Engineers have a lot on their plates, yet hundreds find the time to mentor Future City students each year. In fact, it seems that the busier the engineer, the more likely they’ll get involved with the competition.
A good case in point is Hamilton, owner and operator of Busy Bee Industries, a thriving business farm selling honey, handcreams and other products from the hive. She is also the inventor and marketer of the "Sticky Machine," a standalone unit that cultivates bee populations. An independent businesswoman with a crowded professional and personal schedule, Hamilton says the program offered too many positive paybacks for her not to help out.
In Future City, students, under the guidance of a teacher and engineer mentor, design a city on computer using SimCity 3000, build a 3-D model, write an essay, and create an oral presentation, all in the hopes of winning regional competitions in
January and an all-expense-paid trip to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., February 20-22, 2006. More than 30,000 students from 1,100 schools in 35 regions participated in Future City in 2005, the largest engineering education program in the country. National Engineers Week 2006 is co-chaired by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Northrop Grumman.
Future City National Director Carol Rieg links the strong connection busy engineers make with the competition to their ability to excel at many things simultaneously. “Advising middle school students is always a challenge, but when you’re asked to help guide young people as they design, build and present a future city, that’s a task perfectly suited to engineers.” Further, says Rieg, Future City also provides engineers a chance to open a window on a profession that many young people may not otherwise consider.
Not only did Hamilton find time to volunteer this year, she also helped lead her team from Birchland Park Middle School in East Longmeadow to win the New England regional competition. At the National Finals, the team received a special award for Best Use of Aerospace Technology.
The most important message Hamilton shares with her students, she says, is how to take their ideas and translate them into reality. "You have to know how to move your thinking forward,” she says, referring to the fundamentals of successfully completing a project. “You design it first, then use computer assisted design, then build a model. All these things allow the kids to present their ideas more clearly.”
Jennifer Smith, a chemical engineer at Plug Power in Latham, New York, who serves as the volunteer regional coordinator for the Albany-Capital District competition, also enjoys sharing her professional insights. She says that Future City gives engineers an opportunity to be role models for students and it helps hone her engineering skills, something her boss has noticed. "One of the things our CEO sees as favorable is that I work with Future City, so I'm able to practice my coaching skills," she says. "Not only on a volunteer level, but also growing them on the professional level."
Hamilton says that young people are surprisingly receptive to the rigors of engineering. “Kids respond well when you give them something fascinating,” she says. “I love the feedback I get.”
She adds, “I like helping kids. It’s something I never got when I was their age. It’s just good karma."
For more information on how to mentor a Future City team in one of 39 regions nationwide, contact Future City National Director Carol Rieg at (877) 636-9578 or CRieg@futurecity.org, or visit www.futurecity.org and click on "School and Engineer-Mentor Registrations." Engineers will be put in touch with their area's regional coordinator.
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Editors Please Note : For photos from the 2005 Future City Competition National Finals, contact Donald Lehr at (212) 967-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Brief : The National Engineers Week Future City Competition™ seeks engineers from every field to volunteer this fall and winter to introduce middle school students across the nation to a career in engineering. Since its founding in 1992, the educational program has made engineering come alive for hundreds of thousands of students. For information on becoming a volunteer mentor, contact Future City National Director Carol Rieg at (877) 636-9578 or CRieg@futurecity.org, or visit www.futurecity.org and click on "School and Engineer-Mentor Registrations." Engineers will be put in touch with their area's regional coordinator.