ITECPP at the Science Fair Expo: Guest Post by Brandon Wong

Officers at Science Fair

The Cal Poly Pomona Student Chapter of Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITECPP) was honored to attend the Science Fair EXPO on October 5. The Science Fair EXPO was co-hosted by San Bernardino County

Superintendent of Schools and Riverside County Office of Education to support the K-12 Science/STEM Education program. Elementary, middle school, and high school students from surrounding counties with an interest in math and science were in attendance to learn about the many different fields in math and science.The Science Fair EXPO consisted of consultations, presentation, exhibitor booths, and workshops. These were hosted by teachers, professors, high school and college students.

ITECPP participated in the Science Fair EXPO by displaying an exhibit and presenting on the discipline of civil engineering. The exhibitor booth included activities on structural and transportation engineering.Students were provided sheets of 8.5” x 11” copy paper and asked to roll them into columns to be able to support loads of textbooks. Initially, many students believed it was impossible until they tested it themselves. Some even maximized their abilities by building five-story high structures of textbooks supported by paper columns. This was definitely the most interactive and enjoyable activity throughout the day as students lined up just to participate.

A traffic signal timing activity displayed on a laptop provided entertainment and frustration for many participants. The purpose of the activity was to control the red and green light signals on multiple intersections to reduce traffic congestion. As the congestion would build up, the frustration meter on the bottom left of the screen would increase and eventually end the activity.  This puts students and parents in the perspective of a traffic engineer and reveals that it isn’t as easy as making all of the lights turn green. There needs to be a fair amount of green light for travelers in one direction in response to the volume and demand, with consideration of the travelers in the other direction.

The discipline of civil engineering was presented to a room of students, parents, and teachers. This consisted of a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation and a 15-minute Q&A session. The PowerPoint explained what civil engineering is, the sub-disciplines in civil engineering, and pictures of different civil engineering projects.  Many questions were asked after the presentation regarding the demand for civil engineers in the future and the difference of working for the public sector versus the private sector.

ITECPP has a mission of meeting mobility and safety needs through these four processes: research, education, development, and public awareness. In addition, introducing the discipline of transportation engineering to students is very important. This helps create a potential interest in this field and forms a community that can help with the mobility and safety needs of the future.

Attending the Science Fair EXPO was important to ITECPP because of the potential outreach to students. This was a great opportunity to answer any questions regarding civil engineering and the education offered by Cal Poly Pomona. The most encouraging comment of the day came from a high school student. She said the possibility of stacking textbooks on paper columns was mind-blowing, and influenced her on potentially switching to be a civil engineering major when applying to universities. This was very rewarding to hear that a student chapter of a professional association could be of great influence to high school students. ITECPP was glad to be part of the Science Fair EXPO and look forward to attending next year.

Feedback from other ITECPP attendees:

“I felt good about helping these students learn about what civil engineering is and seeing how interested and engaged some of the young kids were. So many of these kids have such a bright future and to be able to maybe spark an interest in engineering to any of them is priceless.” – Hector Salcedo

“Educating kids about engineering at the science fair was inspirational. It was truly amazing to see how engaged and involved the youth are with their education, and it was awesome to witness first hand their eagerness to learn about new things. It’s evident to me that all the children we had the pleasure of meeting, have bright, successful futures.” – Mark Shisler

“I was astonished by how forthcoming and interested the kids were in what we had to say. The level of enthusiasm they showed was overwhelming and having the opportunity to inform individuals on the basics of engineering was a tremendous experience for me.” – Kevin Mach

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