The Garver Bridge Team recently hosted pre-engineering students from Beebe Public Schools to give the future engineers an idea of what engineering in the real world looks like.
“Visiting Garver gives the students a chance to see engineers actually doing the work,” said Jeff Wisdom, Beebe’s pre-engineering instructor. “It makes being an engineer a real thing instead of just an abstract career that they’ve heard of.”
The ninth- through 12th-graders recently built 20-inch-long Popsicle-stick bridges, which the Garver Bridge Team tested by measuring each bridge’s deflection at 10 pounds. To test bridge strength-to-weight ratio, each bridge was subjected to more and more weight until it failed. The winning bridge was a truss bridge that weighed 7.3 ounces and held 55 pounds.
“It was fascinating to hear how the teams thought through and studied the process of how to build a strong bridge,” said Garver Project Manager Seth Yancey. “We very well could have been talking to some future Garver employees.”
“I liked talking to the engineers at Garver,” said Brandon Lercher, a senior at Beebe High School planning to major in mechanical engineering at Arkansas State University next year. “It was nice to hear them say they like their jobs and they use the stuff we’re learning in our classes now.”
“I was lucky enough to have a program like this that inspired me to go into engineering,” said Garver Project Engineer Luis Cobos, “so it was pretty cool to come full circle and hopefully inspire another group of kids to do the same thing.”
Beebe High School is an active participant in Project Lead the Way, which is an internationally recognized provider for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum and teacher training. According to the PLTW website, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that by 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there won't be enough qualified workers to fill them.
“Giving students the opportunity to visit places like Garver helps create excitement and enthusiasm for our engineering program, and it gets more kids to enroll,” said Counselor and Scholarship Coordinator Carla Choate.
Garver is committed to working with schools like Beebe to help foster students’ interest in engineering.
“Our profession is only as strong as the next generation of engineers,” said Garver Bridge Design Manager John Ruddell. “It’s very important to the long-term viability of our practice to have smart, young engineering candidates for the future.”