A traveling exhibition for libraries, “Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference,” is in Huntsville, Ala., for the summer.
The exhibition is part of the STAR Library Education Network led by the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning and is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The exhibition includes guest engineers and lecturers in an effort to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering.
Tony Torres, chief of the Systems-Cost Division at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, spoke at a Discover Tech mentoring session in the Madison Public Library media room June 6. Torres, a civil engineer, put together a science, technology, engineering and math presentation for students that showcased different types of engineers, their roles in society and the future job outlook. He also gave an in-depth discussion on the building methods engineers used to design the library. He encouraged the students to “build a better room.”
“Being that I am an engineer, I can quickly pick up on some problems with how this room is designed,” he said. “Let’s talk about a couple of things that could have been done differently when the engineers were planning this room. What are some of the first things we (engineers) look at when we are working on a new building: who is going to use the building and what will they put in it?”
Torres told the students he has enjoyed his 35-year engineering career.
“I’ve worked on some great projects that have helped make the world a better place for you, but I’m getting older and will retire soon,” he said. “Someone will have to take my place one day, and I’m hoping it will be one of you.”
Sophie Young, adult program coordinator for the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library, said this year marks the first time the exhibit has come to the Huntsville area. Discover Tech also includes a 750-square foot exhibit, housed at the library from May 18 through July 9. The exhibit has an inventor’s lab, hand crank generator and interactive quiz game.
Young said Discover Tech is very much a community effort. The library system partnered with local science and engineering organizations for speakers, engineering activities and outreach collaboration to support STEM activities for students throughout the summer.
“We are pleased with the response we’ve gotten from local business to support Discover Tech. These organizations are making an investment in our future,” Young said. “It’s an excellent tool for raising STEM awareness in our youth. We’re excited about Discover Tech, and we’re happy to share the excitement.”
Torres said he is pleased with the participation he got during his career event in Madison. He said he would like to have this career discussion with older students, maybe high school or college-aged. He wants to inspire the next generation of engineers.
“Many of us (engineers) will be retiring during the next decade, so it is crucial that we take a look at how we are going to replenish the work force,” Torres said. “It is necessary to have events like this, because it may be the one thing that gets students thinking about pursuing a career in engineering. We need more of you to consider becoming an engineer.”