Professor Fei Wen and the ChE 342, Mass and Heat Transfer, students welcomed eighty-eight 9th-11th graders from the Detroit and Ypsilanti schools to North Campus for their first Michigan Engineering experience in December. During their one-day visit at U-M, the high school students got a chance to interact with undergrads, grads, professors, and see the campus education and research facilities. The finale to the day’s events was a ChE342 student project expo consisting of 36 live science demonstrations to illustrate various mass and heat transfer concepts they had learned during the fall term.
“Bringing high school students into our undergraduate classroom is a very unique and mutually beneficial experience for both our ChE undergrads and the local high school kids,” says Professor Wen (second from the right in photo with visitors). “It motivates our undergrads to fully comprehend the theory behind mass and heat transfer, and it pushes them to reduce complex abstract equations to simple tangible demonstrations. They have shown high creativity in designing projects, which worked very well to reach out and inspire the high school students to consider the possibility of a future career in engineering.”
“None of the high school students who attended this year had visited Michigan Engineering before,” noted Mary Beth Damm, the College of Engineering’s Director of Outreach and Engagement. “Events such as the ChE 342 student expo are wonderful opportunities for them to talk with college faculty and students and get advice about courses to take in high school to prepare for a STEM degree.”
“They (students from MLK High School) definitely benefited. I really think that this was the best field trip that I have ever taken students to. The amount of work and enthusiasm that your engineering students showed in their presentations was phenomenal,” says Diane McKenzie, the teacher from MLK High School in Detroit.
Professor Omolola Eniola-Adefeso started this program in 2008 when she was teaching ChE 342. After six years of bringing students to campus to observe student presentations on campus, Professor Wen wants to expand the outreach program for a broader impact This year, in collaboration with Hans Sowder from the Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach, she recruited 50 more students from MLK High School, Douglass Academy for Young Men, Ypsilanti Community High School and New Tech High School. In addition to writing a report and making a poster about their projects, this year’s ChE 342 students were also asked to make videos where they demonstrate a scientific concept, such as diffusion, so that non-engineers can understand it, and explain why understanding each process is important.
View a sample of videos created by the students this year.
All of the class videos will eventually be uploaded to this YouTube channel. With the new YouTube channel, it is anticipated that many more high school and college students outside of southeast Michigan will be able to view the demonstrations. These activities are part of an effort to attract more young people to STEM fields and to help students learn about the usefulness of engineering, especially chemical engineering.