NCSU Engineers Change the World Workshops

The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) at North Carolina State University partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on their Introduce a Girl to Engineering initiative. Two workshops were held in February:  February 18, 2014 in Raleigh, NC with 24 girls attending and February 20, 2014 in Winston-Salem, NC with 63 girls in attendance. A panel of engineers from NCDOT talked about how they became interested in engineering, shared their college experiences, and described what they do in their jobs. The highlight of the day was the group activity in which the girls designed and built rubber band-powered cars. The engineers worked with each team and showed them how certain engineering principles could help them in their design. When tested, most teams had to go back and tweak their cars, but they all figured out how to fix any problems and enjoyed the spirit of competition.

On February, 20, 2014, CTE worked with Women's Transportation Seminar - Triangle Chapter to co-sponsor a Transportation YOU event held in Raleigh, NC. Thirteen girls and six parents attended the event which featured an NCDOT engineer from the Pavement Management Division as the speaker. She discussed her educational background and described the work she does which includes office and field work. After the question and answer session, the girls made "asphalt" cookies. Chopped walnuts, flaked/shredded coconut, old fashion oats, and quick cooking oats symbolized the various aggregates used in asphalt paving and the girls gained an understanding of paving, the physical properties of asphalt, and its importance in road construction.

CTE worked with WTS to co-sponsor a Transportation YOU event held in Raleigh on April 24, 2014. Eleven girls heard the speaker talk about her work as a geotechnical engineer with a private engineering firm. She explained the difference in structural engineers, who design what you see, and geotechnical engineers, who design what you don’t see.  She described how a split spoon sampler can be used to take soil samples. The hands-on activity involved creating a sample profile of a cake. The soil was represented by three different colors of cake mix.  Hollow cylinders were used to represent drills for boring in the soil. A ruler was used to measure the depth of each layer which represented sand, silt, and clay.  Participants created the sample profiles and drew these on graph paper. They presented their sample profiles to the group and the presenter asked them questions related to their activity. Mentors assisted the participants in the activity.