National Engineers Week offers fun for all ages

CEET job fairFor the second consecutive year, the NIU College of Engineering & Engineering Technology (CEET) celebrated National Engineers Week with events for all ages.

The theme for the 2012 Engineers Week was based on the projected world population of 7 billion people.

With that many citizens, the many challenges facing our world requires immediate engineering solutions. CEET is poised to address these issues by extending STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields to the youth of our region and by educating our undergraduate students in an environment where they can bridge educational concepts with practical application.

The week began with the Second Annual CEET College Bowl, where students joined teams and competed in a “Jeopardy”-like competition of wits and humor. Questions came from all four CEET academic areas, and also included more humorous movie and popular culture topics.

About 100 students, faculty and staff members joined for dinner and to cheer on the winners. From a pool of 10 teams, the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team took top honors and won scholarship money for their victory.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, CEET welcomed 31 companies and organizations from across the state at the bi-annual CEET Internship & Job Fair. More than 200 CEET students met representatives from corporations such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Ipsen, Navistar and Hamilton Sundstrand.

CEET job fairMost companies were looking from paid internship positions as well as full time employees as the region sees growth for its engineering and engineering technology workforce.

John O’Kelly, an engineer from PM Mold Company Inc., was particularly impressed with the CEET students he met. “The students just kept coming, and each one was as impressive as the next. I am blown away by the talent here.”

Sharing his sentiments, Sven Bley, from Made to Measure, took the time to call CEET after the fair was over to again recognize the quality of CEET students.

“I just wanted you all to know that I had so much fun meeting your students,” Bley said. “I am impressed, will be back and am already starting interviews next week.”

Most companies who come to the job fair are interested in long-term partnerships with the college in an effort to keep students in the region, affect curriculum and save money – something Omar Ghrayeb, associate dean of Outreach & Undergraduate Programs, explained in news coverage.

The job fair is also essential to the growth of our engineering students and most understand how important it is to develop the soft skills necessary to land a job after graduation.

“(I gained) networking experience and exposure” by attending the fair, said Matthew Sirek, a mechanical engineering student.

The week’s festivities came to a close with Cliff Mirman, chair of the Department of Technology, hosting a bridge-building competition for 200 Rockford-area high school students in partnership with the the Rockford Public Schools and Rock Valley College.

Teams of four students each competed to build wooden bridges in less than one hour, then watched as they were tested to see how much weight they could hold.

All student teams were given the same materials, typically quarter-inch-by-quarter-inch balsa wood sticks and super glue. The winning bridge was able to hold 150 pounds.

Mirman said this simple event is just the kind of activity that gets students interested in engineering.

“These are great events because it shows how engineering can be fun, and how anyone can be an engineer,” Mirman said. “The students come from all different backgrounds and levels and they build bridges and compete; no one knows what the materials will be ahead of time, and everyone has a fair chance to win. It is really exciting to see the kids work on the bridge and then watch in silence as they are tested.”

by Amanda Carrier

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