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Technical Expo Engineers High School Students for Success

Fri May 09, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) Sheiron Crawford wrinkled her brow as she examined the total station, a surveyor’s tool, mounted on a tripod.

“I don’t want to, I’m scared,’’ Crawford, 15, pleaded.

Her classmate, Ziereka Colbert, 16, laughed at the Wicomico High School freshman, who tucked her hands into her SpongeBob SquarePants jacket.

“Take this,’’ said Reginald Asare, a University of Maryland, Eastern Shore senior, handing Colbert a prism that enables the total station to calculate its position.

More than 65 students from Wicomico County high schools attended the school system’s first Engineering Expo held at Parkside High School. The program, sponsored by the members of the Maryland section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, is part of a statewide effort to help students discover and explore in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Hands-on demonstrations staffed by engineers and technologists from local engineering firms — AWB Engineers/Andrew W. Booth Associates Inc.; Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc.; Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates Inc. and UMES allowed students to participate in special areas within the field. Students rotated through seven stations, which included structural engineering, geotechnical (soils) engineering, environmental engineering, computer-assisted drafting and design, surveying and land-use planning.

At the expo, Crawford surveyed a portion of Parkside’s parking lot using the total station, while Colbert held the prism a short distance away.

“You can measure vertical and horizontal distances, angles and elevations,’’ said Asare, 23, who will earn his bachelor’s degree with a concentration in construction management in May. “I always enjoyed looking at buildings and wondered how they were built.’’

Ryan Lewis, 17, said Legos helped pique his interest to study architecture in the future.

“When I was younger, I always liked to build things,’’ said the Wicomico High School junior.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers are expected to see average employment growth through 2014. Spurred by general population growth and an increased emphasis on infrastructure security, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct safe and higher capacity transportation, water supply and pollution control systems. They will also be needed to repair or replace existing roads, bridges and other public structures.

“We’ve been told [at the state and county level] that there is a shortage of students going into technical fields — engineering specifically,’’ said coordinator David Harner.

Kelly Steiner, a structural design engineer for Davis, Bowen & Friedel, hopes the expo will help pique student interest.

“A lot of students go away to college and don’t come back here to work,’’ Steiner said. “We want students to know there are engineering positions on the Eastern Shore.’’

Entry-level salaries vary based on the individual’s areas of expertise, experience, education, supervisory responsibility, accountability for projects, and the geographic location, size and industry of the employer.

A 2005 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that bachelor’s degree candidates in civil engineering received starting salary offers averaging $43,679 a year. Those people holding a master’s degree were offered $48,050 and doctoral degrees, $59,625.

Ben Etherton, 17, who eagerly participated at each station, has other plans for his science knowledge.

“I really want to own a vineyard and winery,’’ said the Parkside student.

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