SCE knows that the future of our nation will be significantly determined by the state of our technologies and our computing and engineering capability. To this end, SCE faculty, staff and students are working with area schools, community and professional organizations and K-12 STEM outreach programs to increase our region’s STEM pipeline and ultimately the number of STEM professionals for America.
This past academic year, SCE has hosted on-campus visits for students from Wyandotte, Schlagle and Harmon High Schools (Kansas City, Kansas), Blue Valley Caps (Overland Park, KS), Paseo and Ruskin High Schools (Kansas City, MO), and the Black and Veatch Explorer’s Group (composed of students from various high schools). Capping off this busy year, the first annual SCE’s “Middle School Week” from April 8-12 attracted 175 students from New Mark Middle School as well as gifted 5th graders from Kearney Elementary School to visit our school. Additionally, SCE has engaged with many 7-12 schools and STEM organizations through visits and cooperative activities. Several of our faculty and staff participate in KC-STEM Alliance and Science Pioneers sponsored activities by volunteering their time and expertise and helping arrange events here on-campus. This summer, SCE is hosting 6 summer programs for underrepresented middle and high school students to increase interest in STEM careers. The growth of our outreach programs has been due to the leadership of Valeri Reynolds, SCE Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator, and Whitney Molloy, SCE Director of Student Affairs, and remains a high priority with SCE Dean Kevin Truman. They estimate that SCE faculty and staff activities have impacted over 5,000 middle and high school students in Kansas City this past year.
The students’ SCE experience varies according to the age group. Fifth graders may experience a Bridge Building Competition where the students are divided into groups and have a certain amount of time to design and construct a bridge using toothpicks and marshmallows. During the competition each bridge is tested to see which one can hold the most weight without crumbling. On the other hand, a middle school group may spend more time discussing the intricate details of the robot design with Debby Dilks and the robotics team or perform hands on demonstrations with Mike Kelly in his Power Lab. High school students may hear a SCE presentation; visit various labs, such as CIBIT and GAIT; work on solving problems with a computer science student or meet with current students to discuss STEM career opportunities. Regardless of the age, every visitor has one thing in common, they all fall in love with the Baja Buggy.
We are proud to play a part in creating new engineers and computer science professionals here in Kansas City through numerous outreach activities. Additionally, we are equally proud that we provide bright, talented local students a cost effective way to pursue STEM undergraduate education and careers.