CARSON, California – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District representatives encouraged students to design and build bridges during a West Point Academy Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics event at Stephen M. White Middle School in Carson, California.
The Jan. 17 workshop is dedicated to developing competent STEM leaders and featured designing bridges using software, leadership, team work, as well as a competition to see who could build the most cost effective and stable bridges.
“I think it’s important as one of the leading engineering agencies to provide support for STEM events and help develop future engineers,” said Lenard Lee Tran, LA District structural civil engineer. "Kids need to know that engineering is fun, and once our team guided them with basic bridge-building concepts, you could see they really enjoyed it."
One of the concepts engineers taught the students was the strength of a triangle when it comes to building structures. After clarifying why triangles were vital, West Point cadets issued a 45-minute challenge to build a bridge using Lego-like pieces.
“It was pretty challenging because we had to make sure the bridge was not too heavy with the Lego pieces, and we had to make sure it could hold the most water bottles," said student Kaley Bumgardner. “I learned that working together and paying attention is key to solving the problem correctly.”
Some of the West Point Cadets had the opportunity to return home to Southern California and lead a few of the leadership workshops.
"I've always had a passion for developing future leaders, and what a great opportunity to come back home and help the next generation prepare for the future," said Jessica Jiwon Min, West Point cadet. "A lot of these kids we've seen today have such a bright future in STEM."
The workshop, sponsored by the West Point Society of Los Angeles, gave students the opportunity to practice leadership, ethical decision-making, respect for others, problem-solving, effective communication, time management, civility, and working in a diverse environment.