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Junior Engineering Day aims to inspire KC students' interest in STEAM careers

Posted at 10:05 PM, Apr 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-07 00:01:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students from 20 different Kansas City schools got some hands-on experience Saturday in the engineering world through Junior Engineering Day.

“We are going out in the community to try to give kids exposure to what we do in our tech/STEM industry,” Henderson Engineers CEO Rich Smith said.

The engineering company sponsored the event with BRR Architecture, Wallace Engineering, and Turner Construction. The gathering, which was filled with demonstrations and other tactile experiments for fifth- through seventh-graders at the Manual Career and Technical Center, in hopes of inspiring more kids to get interested in science and engineering careers, especially girls.

"When I was a kid, as a female, I think you are sometimes not as encouraged to go into fields with math and science," Henderson Engineers Vice President Julie Pierce said. "What we like to do, we like to talk about the 'A' and that's art, so instead of STEM it's all about STEAM."

Sahara Hawkins was among the 200 metro students — including many from a new partnership with the Kansas City, MIssouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, schools districts — mesmerized by the morning's activities. Her approach to learning about the engineering business is unique.

"It really makes me think about how engineering can be put into baking,” Hawkins said.

The 11-year-old has her own baking business. She said she has learned how to incorporate engineering with her passion.

"How they are shaped, how I can get different types of layers over my cookies, and pretty much how they are built,” Hawkins said.

She hopes other students come the event in future years to get interested in the industry.

"You can experience lots of cool things and you can change your mind on your career,” Hawkins said.