NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 24, 2016) –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 20 through July 1.
Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, and Corps employees mentored, coached and educated 25 students on a variety of engineering topics and provided a tour of the Old Hickory Lock and Dam.
“We are very happy to be a part of this program and to assist in helping these young smart people know more about the Corps and help them make great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math choices for college,” said Murphy.
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 and performed a variety of civil engineering methods, experiments, labs. They also toured various types of transportation facilities located in Tennessee.
The students received briefings on Corps engineering jobs, inland waterways and the geographic information system. They also interacted with engineers and subject matter experts during a tour of Old Hickory Lock and Dam in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Tennese Henderson, an electrical engineer from the Nashville District Hydropower Branch, has coordinated the Corps program for the past 17 years and said the program gets better each year.
“This is an excellent program to provide district mentors and engineering subject matter experts the opportunity to share their knowledge and talk about STEM college courses that make great career fields in the Corps,” said Henderson.
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, Georgia, California, Ohio and Mississippi attended.
Isabella Bignca, a high school junior from Bolton High school in Memphis, Tenn., said she plans to attend a college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and is excited to be a part of the class which toured various engineering facilities. She also said she wants to pursue a civil engineer or biomedical degree.
“This is amazing and it is inspiring to learn so much quickly about the many things Corps employees do every day to make a lock and dam work,” said Bignca. “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.”
Kofi Patterson, a sophomore at Republic High School High School, Nashville, Tenn., said he plans to study computer engineering and hopes to someday to own a computer company or work for the Corps.
“My goal is to attend college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, do well and be an engineer,” said Patterson. “I really enjoyed Lt. Col. Murphy’s brief, the tour of Old Hickory, the speakers and all information the Corps provided.”
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.
Bobby Jackson, a Natural Resource Specialist, gave a presentation on the Geographical Information System as it relates to natural resource management project and feels the students absorbed the information well.
"This is a smart group of young people, with lots of questions about GIS and payed attention to my brief,” said Jackson. “One of the best things about providing this information is to know that we are preparing them with engineering fundamentals and equipping them with tools to that will provide sustainability in the future.”
According to Mark Worley, 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 lock works, and ask many questions.
"I like it when students come through for tours,” said Worley. “I provides us with the opportunity to tell them about the challenges and paths that it takes to enhance their learning and assist them with choices that will help them make the right career decisions,” said Worley.
Other Corps speakers included John Tribble, an electrical engineer; Mark Klimaszewski, natural resource specialist and Courtney Eason, a realty specialist in the Real Estate.
“These young men and women come from all over the country seeking information that will help them decide what path of education they will pursue, and it is gratifying to help mentor and shape students into future engineers and scientists,” said Henderson. “They are the future engineers who will build, maintain and manage our nation’s roads, infrastructure and waterways someday.”
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.)