Rocky Mountain K-12 Outreach in Action!

This article is the joint effort of Cory Jensen and Michael Mutnan.

Greetings from the Rocky Mountain Section of AIChE! Since our section covers a lot of territory, it makes sense that several different types of outreach projects exist throughout the region. We encourage new members and young professionals to lead similar efforts and take the time to share their efforts as well! Below, we highlight two of our outreach efforts:

State of Colorado Science Fair

Michael Mutnan has served for over 20 years as liaison and special judge in the Colorado State Science Fair, which is held annually at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. As a special judge, Michael evaluates all projects at the fair to identify those that have a chemical engineering focus. Further, Michael coordinates with members who participate as judges. The Fair is held during the first week of April and projects are divided into two groups: Junior (middle school/junior high) and Senior (senior high/conventional four-year high school). For each grade division, our section gives first- and second-place awards that consist of a cash prize, certificate, and invitation to a section meeting for the students to display and talk about their project during our social time prior to a local section professional meeting. The 56th Annual Colorado State Science Fair winners in chemical engineering projects are:

Junior Division

  • First Place with an award of $100.00: Emma Frantz, 8th Grade, North Middle School, Colorado Springs. "Does It Stick? Viscosity's Affect on Liquid Mediated Adhesion"
  • Second Place with an award of $75.00: Sydney Matteson, 8th Grade, North Middle School, Colorado Springs. "A Head's Tail: The Effects if Pharmaceutical Pollutants & Remediation on Regeneration of Planeria"

Senior Division

  • First Place with an award of $100.00: Sara Volz, 10th Grade, Cheyenne Middle School, Colorado Springs. "Enhancing Algae Biofuels Phase II: Stress Analysis of ACCase, and Enzymatic Factor of Lipid Production"
  • Second Place with an award of $75.00: Kerry Betz, 12th Grade, Fairview High School. Project Title - "Constructing a Novel Cage Molecule for Use in a Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell"

More information can be found in the May 2001 Rocky Mountain newsletter.

K-12 Ties to Innovative Senior Design Projects

Serving as a student liaison in the Rocky Mountain region, on the Young Professional Advisory Board, and in the Career and Education Operating Council (and a student at the Colorado School of Mines), Cory Jensen has been involved with the promotion of K-12 outreach that develops ties to senior design project work and community. After utilizing a Denver Urban Garden's community garden in coordination with the Cole Arts and Science Academy (CASA) in the Denver Public School system to innovate experiential "infusion" classes (2010-2011), Cory has worked to translate design for the environment principles that can be incorporated into multidisciplinary senior design engineering project work that is in line with Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) guidelines.

View East from Mitchell community garden looking towards Cole Arts and Science Academy. Cole garden plot in the foreground.

This academic year (2011-2012), a senior design project was designed drawing upon cross disciplinary engineering expertise to develop a teaching tool conveying education content that illustrates impact (e.g. energy & environment). The design focuses on maintenance of biological systems and utilizes education as a design input. In the future, Cory hopes to develop project work with local businesses, engineering firms, non-profits, and federal agencies. The Renewable Energy Demonstration Center (located in Golden) has been a key partner in developing innovative education and outreach programs with the Colorado School of Mines that has established grassroots connections in the Golden community and with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

How is your local section involved in outreach?

Photo: Colorado Rockies, drocpsu via Flickr