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  5. Verona third-graders get a diverse tour of mechanical engineering labs

Verona third-graders get a diverse tour of mechanical engineering labs

Assistant Professor Michael Zinn (left) talks with Glacier Edge Elementary students about the medical side of mechanical engineering.

After spending a day in the Mechanical Engineering Building, third-graders from Glacier Edge Elementary School in Verona learned that mechanical engineering's applications extend across myriad fields and open up many exciting possibilities. 

During an October 29 tour led by Associate Faculty Associate Erick Oberstar, the group of 17 students learned about everything from turbine engines to surgical robotics. 

Kuo K. and Cindy F. Wang Professor Tim Osswald welcomed the students to the Polymer Engineering Center, where he and his graduate students discussed 3D printing and gave the third-graders 3D-printed soccer balls. Assistant Professor Michael Zinn demonstrated the medical side of mechanical engineering, showing the visitors such devices as a catheter-control robot.

The students also had the opportunity to do some hands-on experimentation. In the Mechatronics Laboratory, they tried their hand at a computer-controlled water-level control system, the kind engineers at a pumping station might use, and even dabbled in writing software.

"This adventure offered the children more exposure to the physical sciences, which is not usually targeted in the elementary classroom," says Glacier Edge third-grade teacher Joyce Pfeifer. "They got to see the types of skills, knowledge, and problem-solving practices they need to be 21st-century citizens." 

Scott Gordon