Visit to Project Site and First-Hand Learning

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor whipping winds could keep members of the Sleepy Hollow High School Engineering Club from seeing the bridge project.

Hearty members of SHHS Engineering Club with ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross and Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty/NNYB Outreach

Hearty members of SHHS Engineering Club with ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross and Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty/NNYB Outreach

Remember when I told you the club was formed last spring after the Outreach Team inspired students with their presentation? These kids have drive! They stood outside yesterday and learned about how the bridge is being built, and about the I Lift NY super crane. While last year’s harsh winter forced construction to halt for a few days, students got a feel for what it’s like to work in the elements.

‘Tis the season to pass around coffee and pumpkin pie; we passed around a small section of rebar. The kids reacted when each held it; I had no idea how heavy it was and lowered my arm from the weight when it was my turn.

ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross updates students about the project and the crane/NNYB Outreach

ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross updates students about the project and the crane/NNYB Outreach

Now in its initial year, “the club includes students from a variety of backgrounds in terms of grade level,” Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty said. “Everyone’s interested in the bridge, and many students want to pursue engineering after high school.”

There are a variety of opportunities within the field, ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross said. One way to learn about them is to “try many things: engineering and science courses, explore different career majors, read about them, and meet people who are working in areas that intrigue you. Meet your professors, and join clubs and societies that interest you.”

“I’m a supporter of engineering education, and it was a thrill to see their eyes light up with ‘aha’,” Gross said. “I’m trying to inspire them, to show them how even the even the basics they’re studying in school are applicable.”

An ‘aha’ moment came when the kids heard why there are more pilings on the Rockland side than there are on the Westchester side. “The land is less stable, and the soil quality on the Westchester side is much closer to the surface,” Gross explained. “You can put more load onto rock.”

The I Lift NY super crane, its versabar (system) in action

The I Lift NY super crane, its versabar (system) in action

The award-winning super crane was a big (pardon the pun) attention-grabber, especially when Gross described its size, and that its versabar (system) can hoist 1700 metric tons (1928 US tons). “It’s sitting prettily in the water, and the fact that it’s so far away makes it look smaller than it is.” They nodded in agreement; it did, in fact, look close, sitting on a barge 22 feet deep into the Hudson River.

“It’s easy when you’re part-way through high school or college to worry about choice of major or career path,” Gross said. “It’s easy to think there’s one right answer; that false dilemma keeps you under stress.”

Even a mega project with high-end equipment includes technical concepts within students’ reach. “Math, physics and other sciences provide versatility, and are relevant to engineering projects,” Gross said. “Something you’re learning now might (just) be applicable five years from now.”

Want to know more about this snowy day presentation? Check back next week.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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