Engineering Ambassadors Celebrate Second Successful Year and Plan for Third

Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Engineering Ambassadors program wrapped up a great 2014-2015 school year with a thank-you reception on Tuesday, July 14. At the event, MMSA recognized the volunteer engineers who are an integral part of the success of this exciting program.

MMSA has received a $25,000 grant from Texas Instruments to continue the Engineering Ambassadors project for a third year in 2015-2016. This grant is part of TI’s “Power of STEM” grant program.

In partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), MMSA developed the Engineering Ambassadors project, which engages 5th-8th grade students in the Greater Portland area with professional engineers who visit their classroom, co-lead design challenges with teachers and afterschool providers, and share what it’s like to work in a STEM field. In its first two years, the program has engaged over 1000 students in hands-on engineering design activities.

Participating teachers and engineers attend a half-day workshop prior to the classroom visits where they work together to solve an engineering design activity that will later be used with students. The workshop also includes practicing how to best share the multifaceted work of engineering in a manner that resonates with youth. The program is an effort to make STEM work more visible and exciting to students at a time in their education when they can make choices to study more advanced math and science, which readies them for success in STEM fields in college.

“We’re so pleased that this program will continue next year,” said Lynn Farrin, the MMSA STEM specialist who has led the initial workshops and coordinated the project for the past two years. “The engineers are inspiring classroom ambassadors, and students are very interested in and motivated by their stories. This year we will create short videos, capturing engineers’ stories, to further expand the reach of the program.”

High-quality engineering activities from IEEE’s Try Engineering materials provide engaging problems that lead to creative and innovative solutions from students and introduce the types of problems engineers solve.

“Engineers solve real problems for Mainers, like designing cell phone apps that pinpoint where power outages are in an ice storm,” said Ron Brown, Secretary of the Maine chapter of IEEE. “Engineers have their choice of jobs in or outside of Maine and make a good salary while making a difference.”

The project will recruit more engineers and teachers for the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers, engineers and other STEM professionals interested in participating in the program can contact Farrin for additional details. This program is at no cost to schools to participate.

MMSA, which has enriched the professional skills of Maine’s teachers for over 20 years, is extending its work further into engineering by working with IEEE, the world’s largest professional organization for the advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. TI is among local companies with a number of IEEE members, and supports this initiative through its corporate “Power of STEM” grants program.

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