By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
ROCKY MOUNT —
ROCKY MOUNT – A camp this week at Gateway Technology Center on the campus of North Carolina Wesleyan College is molding high-school students into young engineers – engineers with the potential to change the world.
“You can change people’s lives. Engineers have a lot of social impact,” said Ed Hutton, chief operating officer of Engineering World Health, a non-profit organization based in Durham. “Pretty much everything around you has been touched by an engineer somewhere.”
Hutton spoke to the students at the camp Monday about Engineering World Health’s mission of bringing new biomedical equipment to third-world countries, such as Cambodia, and training the people there how to use the equipment. The goal of Hutton’s speech was to spark the students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
“It’s a very good living, it’s a lot of fun, you can change people’s lives,” Hutton told the students. Hutton began engineering training on medical equipment while serving in the U.S. Army and later earned his electrical engineering degree.
The veteran engineer observed the high-school students Monday as they soldered an electrosurgical unit tester. Jonina Wrenn, a rising 10th grader at Tarboro High School, expressed her excitement in the project.
“I want to do the soldering where we can build things so it can go to different countries – Nicaraugua, Cambodia, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania,” Wrenn said. “It makes me feel good. We’re doing a good deed.”
Wrenn is participating in the engineering camp for the third time this year. She aspires to have a career in the medical field. Before learning how to solder, she worked on building a tennis racket and a conveyer belt Monday morning.
Jalen Moore, a rising ninth grader at Edgecombe Early College High School, tried his hand at soldering the electrosurgical unit tester under the watchful eye of Blake Adcock, quality assurance engineer at the Tarboro-based company Keihin Carolina System Technology.
“It’s something that I’ve been interested in – being able to build something new that maybe somebody hasn’t done before,” Moore said. He added that engineering makes a person “think deeper.”
“There’s more to it than just what you see,” he said.
“This exposes the students in this area to new ways of learning. I’m a found believer that STEM education is the way we need to go in education,” said Cyndi Carpenter, camp coordinator and seventh grade science teacher. Forty-four students from all over North Carolina are participating in this week’s engineering camp.
Carpenter said piquing students’ interests in working at companies such as Keihin and Rocky Mount Engine Plant and giving them skills and knowledge valued by prospective employers is one of the goals of the engineering camp.
“We’re showing industries that we can eventually produce a workforce for them,” she said. “The future of this area is in the education of the children that we teach and how we motivate them to get a job and give back to the community,”
Adcock and several other Keihin employees brought their knowledge of soldering circuit boards to the students in the engineering camp. Keihin makes printed circuit boards for use in automobiles, which act as the “brain of the car,” said Adcock. The circuit boards the students created during camp Monday will serve a medical purpose, but the engineering process is the same.
“We can help the high school students learn about the parts, like the resistors and the diodes, and the actual soldering – how to do it and not get hurt,” Adcock said.
Another Keihin employee, Darrell Long, said the camp is giving the students “more exposure” to engineering, and that exposure may get them thinking about a career in electrical engineering.
Long developed an interest in electrical engineering as a child and moved from his Midwestern home to work for Keihin.
“I think over time, you’ll get more people who will want to stay in this area…having companies like Keihin,” Long said.