Eighth-graders are introduced to engineering


April 15, 2001|By Rosalie Falter | Rosalie Falter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A TEAM of engineers from Northrop Grumman presented a "Discover E" (engineering) program to St. Philip Neri School eighth-graders last week at the Historical Electronics Museum in Linthicum.

The purpose of the program was to interest young people in engineering, show them how important it is, and highlight the prominent role Northrop Grumman Corp. and predecessor Westinghouse have played in major engineering developments.

Manufacturing engineers Bob Ierardi and Wayne Warren and electrical engineer Martin Muller have presented the program before - but in a school setting. They decided this year to take advantage of the audio and visual displays at the electronics museum and bring the pupils there. It was the first time a "Discover E" school group has used the facility.

While 58 pupils sat quietly eating brown-bag lunches in the museum's Pioneer Hall, they listened to Ierardi give the initial presentation.

He defined engineering as "the application of math and science to create something of value from our natural resources," and explained that about 30 types of engineering specialties exist, including aerospace, computer, electrical, mechanical, industrial and many others that would not readily come to mind such as optical, plant and biomedical.

Ierardi told the pupils what they should think about if they're interested in a career in engineering - the amount of education needed for a degree and the necessity of good writing, speaking and listening skills. "Engineering is a team effort; you have to interact well with other people," Ierardi said.

He also stressed the importance of extracurricular involvement like part-time jobs, sports and community activities.

"Engineering is a fun profession," he concluded. "I can't think of anything else I'd want to do."

Muller took on a more technical topic for the boys and girls - radar. He explained that it is basically a way of sending out and receiving radio waves. The word is an acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging.

"Radar helps to guide airplanes and look for enemies. It was a system developed to enable us to see farther than eyes could see," he said.

Muller gave a demonstration of the basic principle of radar by using a flashlight and mirrors. He aimed a beam of light onto mirrors and it bounced back to its source. He said radar can tell us much about what it is tracking: the size, distance, type, and speed of the object. He talked about mechanical and electrical scanners and the locations of radar equipment on planes and ships.

Francine Meeks, a science teacher at St. Philip Neri, accompanied the pupils. She said this was the fourth year the school has participated in a "Discover E" program. "In the past, the engineers would spend two to three days at school. It is exciting to be here," she said.

After the presentation, pupils broke into five groups and rotated through the galleries of the museum, where they were given an explanation of the exhibits by engineers and participated in hands-on activities.

Leading them in the galleries were Dan Buck, Les Jamison, Gary Ryan, Warren and Muller. Buck, Jamison and Ryan are retired Westinghouse employees.

The program ended with the pupils participating in an information hunt, in which they had 20 minutes to find answers in the museum to eight questions. Meeks said they would bring the answers back to school for discussion during class.

Warren said Northrop Grumman and its engineer volunteers will take the program to children in 80 schools this year.

"The program introduces students to what engineering does and what role it plays in our society," he said, adding that Northrop Grumman presents each school with a $1,000 check for its science department.

Historical Electronics Museum is at West Nursery and Elkridge Landing roads. Admission is free.

Information, 410-765-3803.

Brethren dinner

Friendship Church of the Brethren will have a spaghetti dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the church hall, 217 Mansion Road in North Linthicum. The cost is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for children ages 4 to 10. Children age 3 and younger are admitted free.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance by calling the church office at 410-789-2422.

Music for scholarships

The Notables - entertainment unit of Patapsco Valley Chapter 3850 of the AARP - and the Scottish Rite Singers are two groups of senior-citizen musician-entertainers under the direction of Linthicum resident Charles Haslup.

Both groups entertain a variety of audiences and present about 25 performances annually. There is no charge for shows, but the groups accept donations - most of which go to their scholarship funds.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the groups will present their scholarship awards program in the hall at Linthicum Heights United Methodist Church, 200 School Lane. Thirteen students from Anne Arundel Community College and Towson University will perform, and will be presented with $200 music scholarship checks in honor of deceased members of the two organizations.

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