Celebrate Engineering Week!

February 25, 2015

2015_Engineers Week_Horizontal

Did you know that this week is Engineering Week?

National Engineering week was first celebrated in 1951.   The National Society of Professional Engineers was the first group to recognize the event, which is now celebrated by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, as well as over 50 corporations and government agencies.  Historically held in February, during the week of George Washington’s birthday, it also pays homage to our first President.  Washington is considered to be our Nation’s first Engineer, notably for his survey work.YoungGW-Survey

Many Engineering programs are in the works this week.  DiscoverE  (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) states that Engineers Week aims to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents

More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference. Check out DiscoverE for more information.  You can also find many great Engineering Week activities and discussion topics on the National Society of Professional Engineers website.   Where can Engineering take you?  Meet some current Engineers at Be An Engineer.

Check back later this week as we take a look at some of the Engineering Explorer Posts in our area, where high school students are exploring Engineering in a very hands-on way!Engineers-Logo


Exciting new Incentive Program for NYS STEM Students

May 14, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced an exciting new Incentive Program for college-bound STEM students across New York State.graphic header

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which will encourage the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to the top 10% of students in every New York high school if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.  (May 6, 2014)

There are several eligibility criteria, such as an applicant must:

  • Be a NYS resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled full time at a SUNY or CUNY college beginning with the fall term following his or her high school graduation
  • Be ranked in the top 10% of his/her high school graduating class of a NYS high school
  • Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics at a SUNY or CUNY college
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester
  • Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in NYS for five years in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. View the terms and conditions of the service contract
  • Not be in default on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or repayment of any state award
  • Be in compliance with the terms of any service condition imposed by a state award

For more information about this incentive program, please visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.  You’ll find all the details you need, including how to apply, and special details and restrictions.

Family Fun at Imagine RIT!

May 8, 2014

Ready to go exploring!

On Saturday, our family attended the Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival. This was our first time attending, but it will definitely not be the last! There was so much to do for children of all ages, that I will definitely be marking the calendar each year for this event.  Our entire family attended, including 2 teenagers (17 and 15) and 2 elementary students (9 and 7).  We had a blast exploring the entire campus.  There were so many things to do it was hard to decide what to do first.

I really appreciated the Plan Your Day section of the Imagine RIT  Website.  You could choose from preselected itineraries (we chose Elementary and High School) as well as a build-your-own itinerary that we tried out as well.  Along with the map, the itineraries were very helpful in figuring out where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to see.  Upon arrival, we were greeted at one of the several Welcome Centers, where we received a full size map and events listing that really helped us as we navigated our way through our itinerary.

Sustainability Passport

Sustainability Passport

Some of the buildings we went through quickly, while others we really explored all they had to offer.  In the Sustainability Hall we had fun filling our a Passport at the different exhibits.  There was so much to see that you really could spend the whole day there and not see it all.

The one exhibit that we had talked about ahead of time, that was on our “must do” list was the robotic s’more maker.  Of course this was all the way at the other end of campus from where we parked, and we saw some very cool stuff on our way across campus.  From the Concrete Canoe to the Robotic Fish, there were interesting things to learn about at every turn.

The robotic fish drew a huge crowd

The robotic fish drew a huge crowd

The Cement Canoe really floats!

The Cement Canoe really floats!

Along with informational displays, there were hands-on opportunities throughout the festival.  We made pinwheels as we learned about alternative energy sources, had faces painted as we learned about eco-friendly materials and learned about electromagnetics as we tried to pop balloons with an electromagnetic dart.

We took a wrong turn trying to find an exhibit and found ourselves in the Project Lead The Way department.  This ended up being a nice little detour as my older boys (who both participate in PLTW at Brockport High School) were able to explain the many projects on display to their younger siblings.

Overall, this was a great experience and a really nice event to take the family too.  Even with a wide range of ages, we found things of interest to everyone – parents included!

Making a pinwheel to demonstrate alternative energy

Making a pinwheel to demonstrate alternative energy

If you went to the festival, RIT would love to hear from you!  Please fill out their survey to let them know about your experience.  Survey participants have a chance to win a prize if they complete the survey by May 14, 2014.

They have already announced the date for next year, so mark your calendars:  May 2, 2015.

Tammy Bonisteel works for the Fingerlakes STEM Hub and maintains the Hub Website along with the STEM Hub blog.  She lives in Brockport, NY where she is an active community volunteer.


High Tech Night at MCC

March 31, 2014

Last week we attended the High Tech Night at MCC.  This Annual event is a great opportunity for students interested in Engineering and other high-tech fields to take a look at some local companies and see what they have to offer.  I attended with my high school freshman, who is a current participant in our high school’s Project Lead the Way program.  He was surprised at the many different ways companies used Engineers, and how different the jobs looked depending on what the company’s focus was.  It was eye opening to see the many opportunities there are in the Engineering and Technical fields.

One of the hands on demonstrations - plastic injection molding

One of the hands on demonstrations: plastic injection molding

Our region has many high-tech companies, and many of them were on-site to showcase who they are and what they do.  There were several booths that had video presentations, they all had staff willing to answer questions, and many of them had a hands-on component.  The hands-on displays were a huge hit, as evidenced by the crowds at these stations as teens lined up to participate.  We were able to see how contact lenses are made and the various stages they go through before being delivered to the consumer, how a 3-D printer works, and even learned how to operate a plastic injection mold to make a small screwdriver.

The RIT Racing Team's display was a big hit!

The RIT Racing Team’s display was a big hit!

In addition to the company displays, there were several colleges represented that had information on their Technology and Engineering programs.  MCC had multiple tables showcasing the many different options they currently offer, and there were also tables from Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology.  RIT brought their student-made race car from their racing team, and that was a huge draw as well.

Group tours of MCC’s labs and buildings were also offered for anyone that wanted a close-up look at the facilities being used in their programs.  Between the tours and the displays, there were many ways to explore the field in an engaging manner, and my high-schooler left with a better grasp of what career paths could be in his future if he wanted to continue along the engineering path.

The Sky Op, a remote-controlled aerial videocamera

The Sky Op

My son’s favorite display was from a local company called SkyOp.  They build unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are basically a remote-controlled mini helicopter, that carries a video camera.  The staff were very engaging and were great at answering all the questions my son had about how long the battery life is (about 20 minutes), how much they cost (depends on size) and how durable they are (quite, and we got several stories of accidental landings and how well they fared).

The presenters were all very engaging and asked the students about themselves, what they wanted to study, and offered tips on course selection (take math and science, and lots of it!) as well as offering some information on internships and entry-level job opportunities.

If you have a student interested in the high tech fields, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what is available locally and to see recent developments in the field.  I would highly recommend going.  This event is run annually at MCC in the early Spring.

Next Week is Engineers Week!

February 13, 2014

engineering week

Did you know that next week is Engineers Week?

If you are wondering what exactly Engineers Week is, it is the only event of it’s kind designed to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents

More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference.

2014 Theme:  Let’s Make a Difference 

This year’s theme was chosen based on the premise that most Americans, both kids and adults, don’t know what engineering is, or what engineers do.

According to the 2014 Engineers Week Theme page:

They don’t know that engineering is a collaborative, creative process that makes a difference in all of our lives—from advances in life-saving medicines to more productive crop yields to clean drinking water.

Engineers Week is a time to make a difference by celebrating our accomplishments and sharing our knowledge, experiences, and enthusiasm. It is a time to turn comments like “I didn’t know that” into exclamations of “I want to do that!”

If you are looking for more information about Engineers Week, activity suggestions, training and more, please visit their webpage for an amazing amount of references.  They even have a webinar titled Five Easy Ways to Make a Difference During Eweek.

FIRST Robotics Competition at RIT

March 16, 2010



On Friday, March 5th students from forty-four high school throughout New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada participated in the Finger Lakes Regional FIRST Robotic Competition, hosted by The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) In total about 4,000 participants and fans attended the annual competition which is sponsored by a robotics organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) FIRST is a non-profit organization founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

 The theme of this year’s competition was “Breakaway” – a robot version of soccer. Five teams qualified for the championship round in Atlanta next month by defeating robots from other teams in the game of Breakaway.

It is essential for schools and STEM related organizations to hold competitions like the First Robotic competition to give students the opportunity to explore science in a fun, hand-on way and to promote an interest in STEM higher education and fields. The competition also increases student’s creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork work skills.  

High school physics teacher Ellen Bansik Lewis saw the valuable skills students gain from participation in the program first hand.  Lewis coached the FIRST Robotics team at Greenwich High School in Connecticut from 2000 – 2003.  “I think that the most impressive aspect of FIRST is how students partner with corporate sponsors, professional engineers, teachers, and their parents and younger brothers and sisters to work as a team, under time constraints, to get a job done that gives them an appreciation for science and technology,” Lewis said.

Lewis saw many of her students go on to college majors and, eventually, careers in the STEM disciplines. “Many of my former students involved in FIRST have gone on to study Engineering or Physics in college. Some of these students had an interest in Science and Technology to begin with, but others found their interest in science because of their participation with the project,” Lewis said. 

Yet, Lewis also saw some students gain skills applicable to other disciplines or that could be applied to STEM fields in a non-traditional way.  “Many students enjoyed designing and building the robot, others enjoyed the computer programming,” Lewis said, “There were also students involved in the project that focused on marketing, publicity, fund-raising, and travel arrangement aspects. I’ve had students go on to pursue careers in business because of what they got out of the project.”

It is quite possible that someday youngsters who participated in The FIRST Robotics Competition at RIT will be students there in a myriad of fields thanks to the valuable skills they learned through the competition.

National Lab Day

February 9, 2010

For those who don’t know about National Lab Day, it is a nationwide movement to bring together stakeholders in communities of support where science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals work together to provide more science experiences to students. National Lab Day is not just one day but a week in May.  Teachers will get the opportunity to work with outside experts. You can simply go on NationalLabDay.org to enter the science project you are interested in teaching, N.L.D. will match teachers with volunteer scientists and engineers in their areas for mentoring. Teachers should become a part of National Lab Day!

This is a great chance for teachers to implement hands-on projects, mentor a student, or even to start a fund-raising to buy needed supplies.  National Lab Day will inspire numerous students.

Read Tom Friedman’s column on innovation and NLD

NSTA Web Seminars

January 27, 2010

Most teachers are busy and rarely have time for any professional development. However, the NSTA learning center is providing many different webinars on different topics in order to deepen the teaching and learning in the classroom. The uncpming webinars are “spark girls’ interest in engineering” and “Teaching Biotechnology: New Tools and Resources for the STEM Career Pipeline”. NSTA is joining force with “Engineer Your Life (EYL)”, a national campaign to showcase engineering as an exciting and rewarding career choice for high school girls. More than 75% of girls familiar with EYL indicated the site inspired them to take an engineering course in college. If teachers know more strategies in helping their students become more interested in a subject, the students’ future will become promising. Therefore, I believe that these are great opportunities for teachers to expand their horizon in teaching. All you need to do is turn on your computer and register online! You can sit comfortably at, and you will gain something valuable from listening to the professionals! Isn’t it wonderful?

Visit Website (Spark girls’ interest in engineering)

Visit Website (Teaching Biotechnology)

White House Begins Campaign to Promote Science and Math Education

November 30, 2009

The white house is starting a campaign to promote Science and Math education by recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers, and thousands of scientists. President Obama announced on Monday to encourage companies and nonprofit organizations to spend money, time and effort to help students in middle and high school pursue science, technology, engineering, and math.

The campaign is called Educate to Innovate, will focuses on activities outside the classroom. Science and engineering societies promise to provide volunteers to work with students in the classroom in order to culminate in a National Lan Day in May. Another part of the campaign also includes a two-year focus on the television show “Sesame Street”, and a website http://connectamillionminds.com/ which was set up by Time Warner Cable. This website provides a searchable directory of local science activities.

It is essential to get children involved in exploring the cool side of science and math. I believe that this campaign will have a positive impact on children. Children learn the best when they are having fun. By incorporating all the fun activities into learning, children will become innovative from participating in different science activities.

Read this article

Famous Women in Mathematics

April 29, 2009


There is a very special relationship between one of my math professors this semester and a student in the class. The professor has said several times during the semester: “I need to find out about some female mathematicians”, usually after comments like: “…and that math book was written by a man, right?”  They have inspired me to do a little bit of research about famous women in mathematics to arm my professor with much needed information to respond to the student before this semester is over!

Hopefully this information will be useful to others to encourage young girls to pursue a career in mathematics or related fields.

I found three websites with lists of famous women mathematicians. Some of the links in the websites link you to biographical databases in other websites.  The three websites are: Biographies of Women in Mathematics, Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups, and Female Mathematicians. I checked all the mathematicians that were in more than one of the three lists and here are the ones I picked:




c.16 Century B.C

Wife of Pythagoras. Ran School of Pythagoras after his death. Wrote works on the Golden Ratio.



Made idea of conics easier to understand.

Florence Nightingale

May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910

Called: Prophetess of Applied Statistics

Invented Polar Area Chart in the form of polar wedges to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform.

Winifred Edgerton Merrill

September 24, 1862 – September 6, 1951

First American woman to receive a PhD in math.

Worked on the geometrical interpretation of multiple integrals and figure out the computation of the orbit of a comet.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

May 16, 1718 – January 9, 1799

“By far the most important and extraordinary figure in mathematics during the 18th century.”

Most important work: Analytical Institutions gave a clear summary of the state of knowledge in mathematical analysis. It included: analysis of finite quantities; elementary problems of maxima, minima, tangents, and inflection points; analysis of infinitely small quantities; integral calculus; and the inverse method of tangents and differential equations.

Grace Chisholm Young

March 15, 1868 – March 29, 1944

Worked with her husband on set theory. Authored 13 publications with her husband and 18 by herself.

Bruckner and Thomson wrote that “The whole field of what was then called ‘the theory of functions of a real variable’ was reworked and rewritten in those first decades [of the 20th century]. The Youngs played a major role in that effort.”

Edith Clarke

February 10, 1883 – October 29, 1959

Achievements in applications of mathematics to engineering.

She became an authority on the manipulation of hyperbolic functions, equivalent circuits, and graphical analysis.

Irmgard Flugge-Lotz

July 16, 1903 – May 22, 1974

Professor Flugge-Lotz acted in a central role in the development of the aircraft industry in the Western world. Her contributions spanned a lifetime during which she demonstrated, in a field dominated by men, the value and quality of a woman’s intuitive approach in searching for and discovering solutions to complex engineering problems.

Ellen Amanda Hayes

September 23, 1851 – October 27, 1930

Hayes wrote several textbooks on Lessons on Higher Algebra (1891, revised 1894), Elementary Trigonometry (1896), and Calculus with Applications, An Introduction to the Mathematical Treatment of Science (1900).

Edna Kramer Lassar

May 11, 1902 – July 9, 1984

Kramer’s greatest work is considered the book, The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics, which was published in 1970. This work took her 14 years to complete. In 1972 she was elected into the Hall of Fame at Hunter College. Her many books still are read and studied today, including A First Course in Educational Statistics, Mathematics Takes Wings: An Aviation Supplement to Secondary Mathematics, and The Main Stream of Mathematics.

Rózsa Péter

February 17, 1905 – February 16, 1977

Péter was the author of Playing with Infinity: Mathematical Explorations and Excursions, translated into at least 14 languages, and Recursive Functions in Computer Theory. The latter was the second Hungarian mathematical book to be published in the Soviet Union because its subject matter was considered indispensable to the theory of computers.

Helena Rasiowa

June 20, 1917 – August 9, 1994

Helena Rasiowa greatly contributed to the development of research in Poland on applications of logical methods in the foundations of computer science. She was one of the first to realize the great importance of mathematical logic for computer science – and at the same time she clearly saw the significance of computer science for the development of logic itself.

Argelia Velez-Rodriguez


Cuban Black Woman: First Black woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Habana. She taught in several American schools before joining the mathematics faculty at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where she was chairperson of the Department of Mathematical Science from 1975 to 1978. In 1979 she became a program manager with the Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program in Washington, D.C. Since 1980 she has been a program director for the Department of Education.

As the author of Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups said: “… until recently, women were mostly prevented from doing mathematics, so relatively few women have become famous in mathematics.” Therefore, now that women are able to study mathematics, we must inspire, encourage and help girls become interested in mathematics at an early age and help them pursue careers in math or related fields.