Volunteers from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support
Center, Huntsville spent time discussing their careers with students at Mill
Creek Elementary School April 8.
The school’s career day is an annual event that is required
under the career development domain of the American School Counselor
“We have standards that say kids should know about different
careers, the education needed for those careers and the salary range of those
careers,” said Raley Fountain, Mill Creek Elementary counselor. “We want them
to be able to see what they are working towards and the purpose of why they
Jennifer McDowell, Huntsville Center interior designer,
hoped her presentation helped students better understand what they will need to
prepare themselves once they reach the high school and collegiate levels.
“As early as 9th grade, today's students are being required
to pick a direction of study with the intent that their high school courses
will better prepare them for their college degree programs,” McDowell said. “This
puts so much pressure on our young people, who in many circumstances don't even
know half of the employment opportunities that exist.”
McDowell said sharing vocational knowledge with students is invaluable
for organizations such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because it allows
Corps personnel to introduce students to potential career opportunities.
The event was fortunate to have a big turnout with a wide
variety of volunteers willing to share their experiences, Fountain said.
“It’s really important for students to see a real life
example of something they think they may be interested in,” she said. “I think
it’s really important for them to hear about a job and what type of education
they will need from someone who is actually doing it.”
To find out what careers students are interested in,
Fountain gives them a survey to get feedback on what careers they are most
interested in, she said.
One of those careers was engineering.
Jerry Henley, a Huntsville Center electrical engineer, said he
volunteers because throughout his education and career, others took their time
to influence and encourage him.
“I feel a similar responsibility to encourage those who are facing
similar choices for their education and chosen career field,” he said. “I
particularly like to encourage those who are considering careers in science,
technology, engineering and math.”
During his presentation, Henley not only discussed the engineering
career field, but he also showed students several tools he uses to fulfill his
duties as an electrical engineer, such as an infrared thermometer.
“This infrared thermometer will read the temperature of anything you
point it at, and I use it because a lot of times we want to know what the
temperature is of something that is operating like a motor or an air
conditioner,” he said.
Henley explained that if a motor or air conditioner were running too
hot it could be about to fail and may need to replaced.
To give the students an example, he pointed the laser at the floor,
which read the floor’s temperature at 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Henley said he hoped that showing examples of what he does each day
helps students appreciate the importance of choosing their career field wisely,
and as an engineer he hoped he conveyed enthusiasm for his STEM career.
“Students should see that success in these careers are directly related
to the school subjects they are studying now, and that these careers can be
both rewarding and fulfilling,” he said.