Summing Up Engineering at ESUMS

By Carolyn Williams

On November 28th 2011, UConn’s Engineering Ambassadors paid a visit to ESUMS, the Engineering and Science University Magnet School in West Haven, Connecticut. Here, a few of the Engineering Ambassadors Presentation Team members taught multiple classes about designing for failure, an important civil and environmental engineering concept. Examples of crumple zones on cars and the importance of preparing for uncontrollable external variables are just two of the many ways this concept was explained to students. The students were then provided with marshmallows and toothpicks, and with these materials created the highest building possible that would withstand a powerful earthquake simulated by a shake table. Cheers were heard from the successful groups with still-standing buildings, while sighs of frustration prompted the failed buildings to be evaluated again and rebuilt. Not only was this activity teaching how to design for failure, but also providing insight on the importance of working with a team and being persistent to create the best possible design with the provided materials. The students of ESUMS enjoyed the break from a typical school day, and learned some quality lessons in engineering while having fun as well. Engineering Ambassadors looks forward to teaching and inspiring more and more students through outreach visits, and continues to open doors for many future engineers.

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Published: April 26, 2012