Did you know that National Engineers Week is observed each February?
The purpose of Engineers Week is to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.
BETA engineers love what they do. In fact, so many of us also spend time outside the office making an impact on the engineering world. This year, in celebration of Engineers Week, we wanted to highlight a few employees that go above and beyond, for the love of engineering.
FIRST Tech Challenge
For the past seven years, Steve Richtarik, PE, an Associate in our Environmental Engineering group, has served as a Judge at the FIRST Tech Challenge, a robotics competition for high school aged students. Steve has also served on the Board of Directors for the Providence Engineering Society for the past 12 years, where he has been instrumental in developing a financial assistance program to help teams in need participate in the competition.
BSCES Younger Member Group
As the University of Massachusetts (UMass) liaison for the BSCES Younger Member Group, Tyler de Ruiter, PE, a Transportation Engineer, helps to maintain a social and educational link between the UMass ASCE Student Chapter and the BSCES/Professional world. Other duties include attending and assisting with the annual Student Caucus and Student Night which help to connect students from all over New England with professionals as well as providing knowledge and mentoring to help students transition into their professional careers.
Additionally, Tyler often represents BETA at career fairs throughout New England. His candor with upcoming graduates is admirable, as he’s able to both encourage them to pursue opportunities with the company, as well as address concerns or questions that they may have about working in the engineering industry.
Lawrence Family Development Charter School (LFDCS)
In 2011, Victor Vega, a GIS/Asset Management Specialist, was approached by his professor about an opportunity to work with UMass Lowell (UML) and Lawrence Family Development Charter School (LFDCS) on developing an educational and fun competition for 7th grade students.
This team developed a popsicle stick bridge competition as an extension of the LFDCS visits to the UML College of Engineering. The competition consists of eleven 7th grade LFDCS students building popsicle stick bridges to specifications provided by the UML ASCE student volunteers. The LFDCS and UML students meet once a week for 1½ hours in a LFDCS classroom. The bridges are loaded using the UML Bridge Breaker to determine how much load they can carry (usually held each February around Engineers Week). The bridges are also judged on a variety of criteria (such as Load to Weight Ratio (LWR) and aesthetics) and prizes are awarded. Read more about the LFDCS Bridge Building Competition.
Over the years the program has expanded to multiple grades with different activities and engineering disciplines. Such activities include Future Cities, where the students design and build their own cities. The school also holds an annual science fair where Victor attends as a judge.
MATHCOUNTS Competition Series
MATHCOUNTS is a national middle school math enrichment program that heightens student interest in mathematics by making math achievement a fun experience and as challenging, exciting, and prestigious as a school sport. The children who participate in MATHCOUNTS are our future engineers, scientist, doctors, and teachers. Each year over 250,000 students participate nationally from more than 5,300 middle schools. In Rhode Island typically 25 schools participate in the year-long program, which culminates at the State Level MATHCOUNTS Competition. At the State Competition the top four students and the coach that will represent the State of Rhode Island at the National Competition are determined. The National Competition has been broadcast on ESPN to showcase the students, or Mathletes as they are referred to at the competition. Winners have also been honored at the White House.
This math enrichment opportunity was initiated by the Engineering and Teaching Community who joined to develop the MATHCOUNTS program in 1983 in an effort to help improve math and science literacy at a critical juncture in US History. RI has been participating since 1984 through the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers (RISPE) as they are the local chapter of the governing body, the NSPE. Paul Bannon, PE, a Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager, was introduced to MATHCOUNTS in 1987 through his association with RISPE, and has been involved in its operation ever since. As a Director on the RISPE Board, he has volunteered beginning in 1989, to be the Rhode Island State Coordinator for the MATHCOUNTS Program. Paul is responsible for the program organization and operations, including reaching out to schools to participate, scheduling of the State Competition, securing volunteers to help administer the event, public relations, and fundraising to offset the costs associated with running the competition.
McAuliffe Charter School
Mark Gershman, PE, a Structural Engineering Senior Associate, joined Framingham’s DPW to teach young students about the Central Street Bridge and the importance of engineering in our communities. The Central Street Bridge was designed by BETA for MassDOT and used as part of the curriculum of the McAuliffe Charter School.
Children at the school were able to apply their classroom education with an actual bridge project in their community. Students were tasked in class with developing their own replacement bridge type and then learned about the actual bridge type and its construction. Mark says the opportunity to teach children the basics of Structural Engineering was a great chance to connect with a future generation of engineers.
“Their natural curiosity and insightful questions showed they understood the various components and materials used in bridges. Bridges and infrastructure are a critical part of the communities we live and work within,” he said. “While most people take the bridges they cross for granted, we now have a group of bright students thinking about the roads we travel and the importance of sustaining them.”
To see more, view this brief video highlighting the educational program that Mark participated in with the Framingham DPW.