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Parks College Celebrates National Engineers Week

02/28/2020

Saint Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology celebrated National Engineers Week, “E-Week,” an events series, outreach to local high school students and the celebration of the successful launch of the SLU-built Argus-2 satellite. 

A competitor rolls his best Indiana Jones-style boulder (blue kick ball) down a ramp at the Parks College E-Week Innovation Challenge before a crowd.

A competitor rolls his best Indiana Jones-style boulder (blue kick ball) down a ramp at the Parks College E-Week Innovation Challenge before a crowd. Submitted photo

E-Week ran from Saturday, Feb. 15, through Friday, Feb. 21.

Contests and Skills Challenges

To kick off E-Week, Parks College and SLU's American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapter hosted the tenth annual Billiken BEAMS (Building Engineering Awareness in Metro St. Louis) competition on Saturday, Feb. 15, bringing 26 teams of high school students from across the St. Louis area to compete in a contest to design and build a bridge out of balsa wood that would be tested and scored. The winning bridge held more than 100 pounds before breaking.

Billiken BEAMS Winners

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 14 teams of students, staff and faculty members from across SLU’s campus, including a team made up of deans and interim deans including Parks's Michelle Sabick, Ph.D., Tracy Chapman, Ph.D., of the School for Professional Studies, and Scott Duellman, Ph.D., of the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, competed in a special Engineers Week Innovation Challenge sponsored by the Parks College Dean’s Office.

This year’s challenge was inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark, as teams were challenged to create a device that effectively protected Indiana Jones from being crushed by a rolling “boulder,” before spectators including Interim Provost Chester “Chet” Gillis, Ph.D.

After testing was complete, senior Zach Sarvis, junior Dawson Myers, and senior Conor Treese were awarded the most effective blockade and won the challenge’s $1,000 prize.

Professional Development and Career Explorations

Floyd Welsh from SLU’s Career Services Center provided opportunities for students to drop-in for quick questions to help them prepare for the SLU Spring Career Expo. Welsh worked with several students on tweaking their resumes, practicing their professional pitch and networking skills. 

Students got the chance to meet with several local engineering employers at the expo later that week.

Girls participating in "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" 2020 build a structure from spaghetti.

Students participating in "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" as part of Parks College's 2020 E-Week celebrations build a structure from spaghetti. Submitted photo

As part of E-Week, the college also hosted “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” on Thursday, Feb. 20, bringing more than 100 young women from seven St. Louis area high schools to campus to explore opportunities in engineering fields.  Students visited lab spaces, met with faculty and current students and competed in an innovation challenge.

Sabick, Ph.D., dean and professor of biomedical engineering, delivered the day’s keynote address, sharing stories about her path to engineering, her passion for her work and insights about the challenges she has overcome to encourage female students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Current engineering students from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the engineering programs at SLU volunteered at the events as lab guides, lunch companions and challenge leaders to share their experiences as engineers with the visiting students.

Presentations and Project Updates

Over the course of E-Week, several student organizations hosted events in the McDonnell Douglas Hall Rotunda, including the Parks Racing Team, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Rocket Propulsion Club, and Engineers Without Borders. 

Students, faculty and staff had an opportunity to speak with members, contribute to each student groups’ fundraisers and to learn more about their projects and initiatives, from building race cars from scratch to helping an orphanage in Kenya access clean water.

Sugar Rushes, Satellite Celebrations and Swag

A crowd gathers in the lobby of McDonnell Douglas Hall on Feb. 19 to watch the launch of the Argus-2 from the International Space Station.

A crowd gathers in the lobby of McDonnell Douglas Hall on Feb. 19 to watch the launch of the Argus-2 from the International Space Station. Photo by Maggie Rotermund

The school week began with a sugar rush on Monday, as students, staff and faculty were invited to share Doughnuts with Dean Michelle Sabick, Ph.D. in McDonnell Douglas Hall. 

Parks College also celebrated the accomplishments of the Space Systems Research Lab, an undergraduate research organization whose mission is to perform world-class research in the design, fabrication and operation of space systems, as its latest cube satellite was launched successfully into space on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The Parks community gathered to hear the transmissions of NASA officials as the Argus-2 was released into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS).

To conclude E-Week, college staff held their annual “Freebie Friday,” where students, staff and faculty spun a new prize wheel for a chance to win college swag, including T-shirts, hats, socks, and silly putty.


Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.