Pre-Engineering Students Get Hands-On Experience with ECBC

Twenty-four Joppatowne High School pre-engineering program students recently experienced real-world research and development with designing, building and testing at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), sponsored by the National Defense Education Program.

In solving current and future engineering challenges through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) solutions, the Center is keen to build a local workforce.

The students were able to interact with experts from various engineering career fields that specialize in areas such as rapid prototyping, 3D laser scanning, and robotics detection. The students were also able to take a ‘sneak peak’ at the Army’s STEM Asset Vehicle – a hands-on mobile showcase that sets out to attract and engage aspiring young scientists and engineers.

“Our students are usually not exposed to real-world engineering techniques such as 3D laser scanning and rapid prototyping,” said Joppatowne High School Technology Education Teacher John Bachman.

“This is an excellent opportunity for my students to learn about an array of STEM career pathways right in their backyard.”

Students were given a demonstration of the techniques that the ECBC Environmental and Field Testing facilities apply to simulate how they transport and store mechanical components/packages in various environmental conditions. They were also coached through the design, build and test phases of a package.

Students were then encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ and were asked to develop a package that prevented a raw egg from damaging during a five-foot drop test and an incline shock test. The experiment required them to apply technical skills, such as measuring, weighing and basic mathematics.

Students whose eggs remained undamaged after the test were evaluated for the weight, volume and creativity of their packaging design. Students were then given a ‘whole egg’ or ‘cracked egg’ certificate, based on the resistance of their individual packages.  Those who built the lightest, smallest and most creative package received special recognition.

Eleventh-grader James Byrd was one of the students in attendance. And it was enough for him to make his mind up about his future career path.

“I will definitely try to come back to work here,” he said.

“This was a great learning experience.”

David Miller, K-12 Science and Math Coordinator for Clark County School District, said:

“The mix of hands-on activities and presentations was very helpful in giving students a real-world perspective of the various STEM career fields outside of the classroom.

“At the high school level, they really need to think about where they would like go and what their goal could be.”