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Parks College Celebrates National Engineers Week in New, Safe Ways

Saint Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology celebrated National Engineers Week Feb. 22-26 with a series of virtual and socially distant events to bring the Parks College community together in spirit.

T-Shirt Drop

Parks College faculty and staff drop T-shirts to waiting students below. Submitted photo.

Parks College kicked off the celebrations Monday with a T-shirt drop in McDonnell Douglas Hall’s Rotunda. Current students arrived to the building to see faculty and staff leadership - who were positioned around the second story of the Rotunda - dropping t-shirts to individuals on the main level below.

A giveaway is typically part of Engineers Week at Parks College, and this distanced event allowed for an exciting start to this year’s adapted celebrations.

Students were also encouraged on Monday to pick up Innovation Challenge kits from the Dean’s Office. Innovation Challenges are hands-on activities that exercise individuals’ minds and creativity.

Innovation Challenge
Rebekah Weimholt and Emily Nunn's winning Innovation Challenge project. Submitted photo.

E-Week 2021’s Innovation Challenge saw students utilizing cardboard and paper cups to create sculptures that symbolized their academic programs and love of SLU. Students took their kits back home to build throughout the week, and returned Friday to rebuild their designs in front of judges for a contact-free competition.

The overall winners of the event were Rebekah Weimholt and Emily Nunn, both electrical engineering students, who constructed a free-standing sculpture of windmills and a water wheel.  The winning team and runners up received cash prizes from the Dean’s Office.

On Tuesday evening, the Parks Community logged into Zoom for a guest presentation from Dennis Muilenburg, former Boeing CEO. He provided an overview of his life and career in engineering, offered advice for students and professionals, and left time for questions from the audience. 

“The students greatly enjoyed hearing about Dennis Muilenburg’s career journey,” said Shellie Sanford, student services coordinator in Parks College. “Mr. Muilenburg has had a long, extensive career path, and he offered some excellent leadership advice to our students.”

On Wednesday, Parks students picked up movie watching kits (hot cocoa packets and microwave popcorn) throughout the day from the Dean’s Office. That evening, they logged into Zoom to watch the movie Dream Big together.

Thursday saw the first virtual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day hosted by Parks College. This event, which typically brings more than 100 high school students to campus for tours and activities, was moved to Zoom. Attendees took part in virtual tours to the CHROME Lab, the WATER Institute and the Soft Tissue Engineering Lab. They then submitted questions to a panel of current engineering students, made up of four members of the Parks Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter.

The event concluded with a keynote address from civil engineering graduate student Crystal Bell. Bell spoke about her journey through the engineering field, finding ways to combine her passions with her professional career, and shared advice for young women who will make up the next generation of engineers. The event was attended by participants from nine high schools, from St. Louis to Nepal. The event was recorded and posted to the Parks College YouTube page, so teachers and students may access the content in the future.

To close out E-Week, Parks students were invited to participate in a Black History Month + E-Week trivia quiz. Throughout the week, trivia about notable Black engineers throughout American history and their accomplishments were posted to the Parks College Instagram account in the lead up to the trivia quiz. The first 10 students who scored 100% on the quiz were awarded Starbucks gift cards.

Friday was also when Parks College and SLU’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapter hosted the 11th annual Billiken BEAMS (Building Engineering Awareness in Metro St. Louis) competition. Typically an in-person event, this year the competition was hosted via webinar.

Seventeen teams of high school students from across the St. Louis area designed and built bridges out of balsa wood remotely over the previous two months. Parks collected the bridges and brought them to campus for the competition, during which bridges were tested and scored in a bracket-style competition. The winning bridge held more than 80 pounds before breaking.

Billiken BEAMS Winners