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Spotlights

Otterbein engineering students engage with Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus

Otterbein engineering students engage with Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus


By: Cameron West ‘19

The Otterbein chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) hosts a monthly after-school program with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus to spark children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects.

This initiative, provided by funding through the Battelle STEM Grants Program, allows enrolled kids to participate in hands-on demonstrations and activities at The Point at Otterbein University. The facility is a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) innovation center with labs and the latest industrial tools.

“This grant was for a STEM education package that would provide lesson plans for the Boys & Girls Club,” said Otterbein Professor Michael Hudoba, an advisor of SWE. “We wanted to take it a step further and allow the kids to come to Otterbein and apply some of the things they learned. I knew this would be a great project for SWE.”

Each engagement session is planned and executed by Otterbein SWE students. The activities are hands-on and are often inspired by the engineering curriculum and labs.

“They’re excited when they arrive and sad when they go,” Hudoba said. “It has been neat to see the mentor and mentee relationship grow between the Otterbein students and the kids.”   

Otterbein Professor Elena Caruthers also advises the SWE program.

“Being the only female faculty member in the Department of Engineering, I was excited to join SWE,” Caruthers said. “We want to support all people who want to be engineers and give them the tools to do so.”

Caruthers and Hudoba enjoy working with the Boys & Girls Clubs and sharing the resources available at The Point.

“Our goal is to help encourage the kids to pursue the STEM sciences by making it graspable and fun,” Caruthers said. “We used the 3-D printers - which the kids were super excited about - and we helped them build circuits to light up Christmas tree lights during the holidays.”

Caruthers and Hudoba recognize the work and dedication of members of SWE, especially Mikayla Knerr, a junior systems engineering student and founder of the Otterbein chapter.

Knerr leads most of the activities and is highly admired by the children. She plans to continue engaging with the community through opportunities provided by SWE.

“This program bridges the gap between the community of Westerville - even Columbus - and Otterbein,” Hudoba said. “We’re not a university that’s in Westerville; we’re a university that’s a part of Westerville. That’s why we love these outreach programs.”

 

Learn more about The Point at Otterbein University and the Department of Engineering.