ASCE Pittsburgh Section at Carnegie Science Center Educational Events – By Shirley Tang & Ben Briston
The ASCE Pittsburgh Section recently sponsored and participated in two educational events hosted at the Carnegie Science Center. These educational outreach events brought students in from dozens of local schools to showcase a wide range of STEM topics and engage with professionals to learn about careers in various fields.
In March, the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF) was held to showcase the projects of over 500 6-12th grade students. A wide range of topics were covered by these students including Biology, Computer Science, Engineering/Robotics, and Medicine/Health/Microbiology.
ASCE Pittsburgh Section representatives participated as Sponsor Judges to present an ASCE Pittsburgh Section award for the Senior Division of the fair. At the fair, judges got an overview of the projects during a poster session and had the opportunity to interview individual students to determine an award winner. The ASCE Pittsburgh Section Selected Outstanding Project Award went to the project Abandoned Mine Drainage Water Bioindicators, for which the student monitored the reproduction rate of Daphnia in water samples to determine the impact of different filtration methods on water pollution and subsequently, the microorganisms’ quality of life.
Many other projects showed the impressive work done by students, including Measuring Exposure to Atmospheric Chemicals Using Passive Samplers: Problems with PFAS, in which the student tracked exposure levels of participants to Per and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are linked to health issues widely used in consumer products. Another notable project was A Novel Computer Vision Based Device for On-Site Detection of Microplastics in Water, in which the student designed and 3D-printed portable system that detects microplastics using a microscope USB camera and a trained custom computer-vision model.
The students’ interest, creativity, and skillfulness in developing these experiments was very inspiring to see and the event was very successful in highlighting the hard work put in by the participants.
Left, From Left to Right, ASCE Representatives Shirley Tang, David Ulmer, and Ben Briston at PRSEF.
The ASCE Pittsburgh Section also participated in the April SciTech Day, a monthly themed STEM event held at the Carnegie Science Center. The April theme was Earth and Environment as a celebration of Earth Day. The students were engaged in different booths and activities to learn about various topics such as natural sciences, the importance of pollinators, wildlife conservation, engineering, and mine reclamation.The ASCE Pittsburgh Section hosted a booth demonstrating through an enviroscape model how watersheds work and how different processes in our environment are connected. ASCE Volunteers also discussed the role of engineers in developing solutions such as designing proper drainage systems and addressing and mitigating water pollution. Additionally, the ASCE volunteers participated in career panels, which were roundtable discussions between professionals and small groups of students to answer questions on their professional work.
Above, ASCE Representative Ben Briston discusses his work as a Senior Project Manager at Gannett Fleming with students.
Below, ASCE Representatives Ben Briston, Shirley Tang, Tom Batroney, Taylor DaCanal, and Matt Stevens at the ASCE booth.
Over 600 students from local middle and high schools attended the event in addition to the over 500 visitors to the museum throughout the day. The event was a great opportunity for students to explore different topics with a focus on appreciating, celebrating, and preserving our environment.
The PRSEF and SciTech events were both great events to interact and discuss the field of civil engineering with students. The ASCE Pittsburgh Section appreciates the opportunity to participate in these educational events and engage with students and the public about the impacts of civil engineering in our communities.