Apr 18, 2011

February has come and gone, but students will remember their first engineering lessons as they start their careers. That, anyway, is the hope behind National Engineers Month, an effort to get students excited about engineering.

Each February, professional engineers volunteer to visit kindergarten-through-12th-grade classrooms to describe their jobs, get children participating in problem-solving exercises and having fun while using math and science. And, in one case, showing silly video clips from movies made before the students were born.

That, anyway, was the case at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Feb. 22 and 23, where OTREC’s Jon Makler presented on transportation engineering. Asking how people get interested in transportation engineering, he showed a clip from “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” depicting a family stuck for hours in a fearsome traffic circle:











Makler engaged his audience with real-world transportation puzzles that doubled as algebra problems. The students calculated travel times to Seattle on various modes, considering access to airports and train stations alongside...

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