K-12 Outreach in Midst of Social Distancing
The ASCE Dallas Branch currently has Civil Engineering Clubs at two Dallas Independent School District high schools: Woodrow Wilson High School and Hillcrest Hight School. These two programs typically include in-class presentations by civil engineering professionals serving as substitute teachers for the day during the typical class periods for the “Civil Engineering and Architecture Design” classes being taught at these two schools. These in-class presentations are also supplemented with visits to construction sites, engineering offices, and even special trips to an ASCE Dallas Branch luncheon once a year.
However, when everyone is ordered to shelter in place, engineers are sent to work from home, and high school teachers are forced to teach their classes online, things have to change when it comes to education outreach. ASCE Dallas President-Elect Jonathan Brower didn’t want the great outreach work being done by the Branch to stop with everyone having to work, teach, and learn from home. So, he worked with the Hillcrest High School Teacher, Diane Combs, to see what her needs were.
“I think it would be great for the students to see and hear how engineers are also dealing with this and still trying to work from home. I had an idea and just wanted to see if you are willing to create a short video about how the quarantine has affected your work and how you are continuing to work from home. Are your projects still moving forward? What are some of the difficulties you have faced or had to work around in this new work environment? What do you think will be changes your career or company embraces as a result of this?” – Diane Combs, Civil Engineering Teacher at Hillcrest High School
Jonathan immediately put together a rough outline for a couple of videos on structural engineering and what it was like working from home. Diane was able to share these with her civil engineering class and share the videos with other teachers in her network. He also worked with the teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, Dan Garrison, to gather up professional engineering and architecture mentors to help guide his school’s engineering teams through the new class project that would define the rest of their semester and class curriculum: a building development project centered around an emergency healthcare center built around the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I knew that it was important to put myself out there early with the teachers to let them know that I was here to help them, along with the rest of the ASCE Dallas leadership. For better or for worse, the academic careers of these students are still moving forward during these times, and I wanted to make sure they were still given the best advice, resources, and mentorship to hopefully continue to nourish and cherish their interest in civil engineering. –Jonathan Brower PE, ASCE Dallas Branch President Elect and Texas Section Senior Director-At-Large
Jonathan also recently discussed these alternative forms of STEM outreach with Ben Wapole on the ASCE Plot Points podcast in early April. You can listen to that here: