NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 26, 2015) –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District collaborated with the Tennessee State University College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science Department to mentor science, technology, engineering and math students involved in a four-week National Summer Transportation Institute program on the campus of TSU June 22 through July 3.
Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Corps employees mentored and instructed 25 students on a variety of engineering topics and informed them about current district projects.
The students received briefings on Corps leadership, engineering, structures, projects, mobility, engineer jobs, lock and dams, watersheds, Corps operating processes, and interacted with engineers and subject matter experts during a tour of Old Hickory Lock and Dam in Hendersonville, Tenn.
“We are happy to be a part of this program and to especially assist in helping youth make great choices that will help you understand engineering,” said Murphy during his opening session.
Tennese Henderson, Corps employee and electrical engineer from the Nashville District Hydropower Branch, has coordinated the Corps program for the past 15 years and said personnel find it gratifying to help mentor and shape STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students into future engineers and scientists.
Henderson recruited and scheduled district mentors and engineering subject matter experts who instructed STEM subjects and talked about college fields that make great career fields in the Corps.
“Through the STEM program, the Nashville District has a great relationship with area high schools, colleges, and we want to keep proving that by the work we are doing with outreach programs in our community,” said Henderson. “It’s not about present employees, but it’s about helping mentor, teach and steer potential future employees and young people to the Corps who will build, maintain and manage our nation’s roads, infrastructure and waterways someday.”
The NSTI program is a four-week residential program for students in grades 10-12. The program offers study in different types of transportation engineering majors and transportation careers. The group studied, performed a variety of civil engineering methods, experiments, labs and toured various types of transportation facilities located in Tennessee.
According to NSTI program coordinator, Gale Brinkley, the NSTI program is only one element of TSU’s pre-college program with a goal of exposing high school students to the advantages of STEM education. She said students from Tennessee, Mississippi, California, Ohio and Georgia were invited to attend.
Henderson said this year’s program is even better than before and we are happy to be a part of the program and contribute to the success of NSTI.
James Turner II, a high school junior from Cane Ridge High school in Antioch, Tenn., said he plans to attend a college in Tennessee, Virginia or Georgia, and is excited to be a part of the class which toured various engineering facilities. He also said he wants to be a civil engineer.
“I’m very happy to spend part of my summer at TSU,” said Turner. “This is great to learn so much about the different types of engineers the Corps has working for them while we get to visit, talk with and ask questions to real working engineers who operate the facilities like the Old Hickory Dam.”
Jasmine Wright, a sophomore at Germantown High school, Memphis, Tenn., said she plans to study engineering and hopes to someday work for the Corps.
“My goal is to attend college, do well and be an engineer,” said Wright. “I enjoyed the speakers and information the Corps shared with the class.”
The Nashville District recognizes the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the country to remain the economic and technological leaders of the global marketplace, and enabling the Department of Defense and Army in providing for the security of our Nation. The district is committed to teaming with others to strengthen STEM-related programs that inspire current and future generations of young people to pursue careers in STEM fields.
“Our STEM program is working great and we are so proud to help educate young people, build on their strengths and learn through teaching what it takes to help make them better young people and citizens,” said Henderson.
Murphy said the purpose of the lectures and tours is to allow the students to work with park rangers, biologists, engineers and learn about how the Corps provides engineering on a daily basis.
Jeff Ross, Nashville District Navigation Branch chief, gave a presentation on the nation’s inland waterways and the Corps’ responsibilities for the protection of navigation and feels the students absorbed the information well and believes they will make a difference in the coming years for the nation.
"This is a good group of young people, full of questions and attentive,” said Ross. “It is fun to know that we are preparing them with engineering fundamentals and equipping them to keep the country moving in the future.”
According to Charlie Bryan, lockmaster at the Old Hickory Navigation Lock, the students were very interested in the many functions of the components and had the opportunity to see how the power house works, a boat lock through, see the infrastructure, talk about how the lock works and ask questions.
"It is always good to provide students the ways to enhance their learning and assist them with choices that will help them make the right career decisions,” said Bryan. “I believe that giving our youth more opportunities to gain educational opportunities will continue to promote STEM, and provide a positive change that will allow them to be better engineers.”
According to Murphy, the Nashville District recognizes the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the country to remain the economic and technological leaders of the global marketplace, and enabling the Department of Defense and Army in providing for the security of the nation. The district is committed to teaming with others to strengthen STEM-related programs that inspire current and future generations of young people to pursue careers in STEM fields, he said.
Other Corps speakers included Don Getty, project manager for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project; and Crystal Tingle, Old Hickory Lake resource manager.
The Nashville District has offices located throughout the Cumberland River Basins that are staffed with engineers, scientists, and other professionals interested in helping educators inspire kids to pursue careers in scientific and engineering fields.
(For more news and information visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)