Aspiring engineers from Yonkers Public Schools not only received collegiate training this summer, but also learned how such post-secondary study would impact one of the State’s most anticipated civil engineering projects. Michael Shamma, Assistant Chief Engineer for the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, invited high school students who had recently completed a summer engineering program at Manhattan College to the Hudson River Museum for a presentation outlining the new Tappan Zee Bridge project. During the discussion, Mr. Shamma addressed the importance of engineering and the dedication it takes for a student to embrace the rigorous education required for the profession.
“I chose to be an engineer because helping others is my passion,” said Mr. Shamma. “It isn’t easy to be an engineer; you have to have a firm grasp of math, science and hard work. If this is your passion, though, commit to it. Never give up on it.”
It was this spark of passion that inspired 32 students from various District high schools to spend part of their summer at Manhattan College, learning about campus life while studying college-level engineering concepts delivered by the college’s professors.
“I’m extremely impressed with the Yonkers educational system. I’ve been working with the District for 15 years, and this summer’s group of students truly impressed me,” said Dr. Walter Saukin, an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Manhattan College. “We need engineers as enthusiastic as the Yonkers students. The field is evolving; the demand is growing.”
Manhattan College was just one of the District’s partners providing unique summer experiences for high school students eager to learn more about collegiate life. Ithaca, Mercy and Sarah Lawrence colleges, Pace University, and IBM also provided opportunities for students to enhance their high school curriculum with advanced lessons in Probability and Statistics (Ithaca), Mathematical Modeling (Mercy), the Environment (Pace), Physics, Chemistry and Biology (Sarah Lawrence) and Technology (IBM). Each program was designed to highlight a facet of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum. STEM subjects represent the areas of study essential to discovery and innovation – the key components necessary for success in today’s global economy. Throughout the country, STEM initiatives have been introduced to enrich classroom study with engaging real-world opportunities that excite and motivate students.
It appears the District’s summer experiences have succeeded in inspiring District students to consider STEM careers. “I would like to be a mechanical engineer, and by participating in the (Manhattan College) program, I gained a perspective that I didn’t have before,” said Lawrence Lee, a junior at Saunders Trades and Technical High School. “The teachers and professionals I worked with showed me that there is an engineer for everything. So no matter what field I go into, there will be a need for people like me.”