More than 30 high school students from Middle Tennessee got to cut through sheets of metal with 25,000-degree plasma, practice welding and extract DNA from a strawberry at Tennessee Tech University recently.
During the weeklong President’s Academy for Emerging Technologies, the students were introduced to different professional applications of science, technology, engineering and math.
“High school students have been very focused on their studies and they don’t necessarily have a perspective of what professionals do in a real world setting,” George Graham, TTU assistant professor of manufacturing and industrial technology, said. “Opportunities like the President’s Academy give us the ability to show high school students real world manufacturing technology.”
The students, who represent 14 counties, spent a week living in TTU dorms. They were selected based on their grades and teachers’ recommendations. TTU faculty and teachers from area schools volunteered their time to take the students to the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, help them build a functional hydrogen fuel cell and make a simple robotic hand, among other things.
The program has been at TTU for several years, funded by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. When budget cuts this year threatened the future of the academy, the office of TTU President Bob Bell stepped up to find money to keep it going.
“He strongly believes this was a good thing to have and a good thing for the area to introduce engineering to these students,” said Matthew Boynton, director of the academy. “Hopefully, at the end of the week, they will have a better idea of what kinds of fields are out there and what they need to be doing for a STEM career.”
To see a video of the high school students in action at the Academy, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/ttunews#p/u/6/NkzL869kg5M.