Connecting with the Next Generation of Engineers

Engineering students from Lakota East High School tour the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge project.

Engineering students from Lakota East High School tour the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge project.

Members of the WTS Southwest Ohio recently accompanied 18 young women who are engineering students from Lakota East High School on a tour of the I-71 Jeremiah Morrow Bridge construction project in Oregonia, Ohio. When complete in fall 2016, the structure will be Ohio’s tallest bridge. The project includes replacement of the high-level bridges on Interstate 71. The existing deck truss bridges are being replaced with a concrete cast-in-place segmental box structure using the balanced cantilever method of construction.

WTS Southwest Ohio is a chapter of WTS International, the mission of WTS International is to build the future of transportation through the global advancement of women. To fulfill this mission, WTS operates under a specific vision with core values, goals, and guiding principles behind all of its activities and programs.

“WTS is really invested in helping young women see all of the things they can accomplish in the engineering field,” said Veena Madineni, an LJB traffic engineer and WTS member, who volunteered to accompany the students. “The group was really amazed at the size of the bridge and the design work that must have gone into it.”

Veena Madineni (right) supervises students during an engineering activity at Lakota East High School.

Veena Madineni (right) supervises students during an engineering activity at Lakota East High School.

The tour was the second activity the group conducted with the engineering students at the school. Previously, seven volunteers from the organization, including LJB traffic engineer Veena Madineni, discussed civil engineering specializations with the students, including the 18 young women.

WTS members shared with the students what to expect from a college-level engineering program, career salaries, responsibilities, and the credential process from EIT to P.E. The group also explored different engineering specialties. After the discussion, the group led the students in a hands-on small group activity. The students built a beam bridge out of straws, paper clips, masking tape and ‘tested’ the bridge strength with marbles. The students also built a suspension bridge out of the same materials but added ‘cables’ of dental floss and tested the bridge strength until failure.

“I hope that activities like this inspire the students to go further with their engineering studies,” Veena said.

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