STEM shadowing experience successful for all

Public Affairs Office
Published July 10, 2014
Employee Stephan Hake speaks with Will Heuser during the STEM shadowing experience

Employee Stephan Hake speaks with Will Heuser during the STEM shadowing experience

The recently completed shadowing experience was reportedly a success from all perspectives.

Middle East District engineers and architects shared time with a local high school student in one-hour increments throughout February, March, April and May. Most of the engineers and architects who spent time with the student seemed to appreciate the experience.

“I enjoy helping students and young people figure out what they may want to do with their lives,” said Joseph Zaraszczak, Project Management Division branch chief.

Kathleen Ergenekon, project manager met with the student and discussed technology. “The student was very interested and willingly shared his views,” she said. “He was given an opportunity to look at the services that may support construction projects, such as furniture, fixtures and equipment for a newly constructed MILCON facility. He was shown engineering drawings and how the electrical overlay works with the furniture placement. He told me that it was meaningful for him to see the purpose of the drawings in relation to the entire project.”

Teachers and administrators are also pleased with the program and its results.

Frederick County Public Schools Transition Specialist Sue Boyce said that programs like this job shadowing experience are valuable in helping students learn about the stages of engineering, practice reflective thinking through the assigned work sheet, and learn about workplace interactions and expectations.

“It is a great way for students to make connections between their school and workplace. These experiences also provide high school students with information to put on their resume for work experience and references, which is critical for young people who are developing entry level resumes.

“Students are motivated to gain new knowledge that is relevant,” said Boyce. “The opportunity to go to the Army Corps of Engineers provides real life experiences and learning for students and inspires them to further their education.”

According to Boyce, it also coincides with the high school plan of study for students. The Virginia Department of Education graduation requirements for students who entered the ninth grade during the 2013-2014 year and beyond include a Career and Technical Education Credential in order for students to earn a standard diploma.

“An internship in a professional environment offers the opportunity for students to gain knowledge and the ability to generalize the skills taught in the classroom to the workplace,” she said. “Increased knowledge and application of skills will positively impact students’ performance on the assessments required to earn the career and technical education credential and improve the student’s readiness for employment.”

District professionals, teachers and administrators, the student and his parents agree that this is a program the District should continue with additional students in the upcoming school year.

Reaching out to encourage our students to study in STEM-related field is a win-win for USACE, according to Ergenekon. “Twenty-years ago, I assisted in a training program which worked with co-op students from the local community. Many of these students stayed with USACE are now serving in management positions.” 

The program provides multiple benefits to the student.
“The opportunity for a high school student to participate in an unpaid internship is beneficial in multiple ways – academically, experiencing how skills such as math, reading, writing, communications, and engineering, are applied in the workplace setting; and socially, learning how to participate in meetings, asking questions, and having workplace related conversations,” said Frederick County teacher Marlies Mulckhuyse.

“This program was the first in what we hope to be able to continue and potentially expand to several schools in the future,” said Deputy Commander Maj. Chris Klein. “The importance of participating in events that engage students who may be considering an engineering career cannot be overlooked. We have a national shortage of engineers, so we need to really sell engineering and the sciences. It’s so important for us to tell our stories and to try to inspire the next generation.”