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Laying the foundation for future engineers

Meneley Elementary School sixth-grader Laisha Rea, 11, works with Vaneza Diaz and Olga Arrella on a beam bridge on Thursday at the school. The University of Nevada, Reno Mobile Engineering Education Lab was at the school to talk to sixth-graders about different types of engineering.
Shannon Litz | The Record-Courier

Children love to build things, but they usually discover stress points and stability the hard way, when their structure falls down.

Two representatives of the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Engineering, talked to Meneley Elementary School sixth-graders in Sherrie Jackson’s class about how engineers build things that stand on their own last week.

“We offer hour-long engineering lessons that expose kids to engineering, and the possibility of coming to the University of Reno,” said Elyse Bozsik, the K-12 outreach coordinator for the Mobile Engineering Education Lab.



“A lot of times this is the first time the kids have been exposed to engineering,” Bozsik said. “Unless you have a family member who’s an engineer, you probably don’t know what engineering is. We show that it’s a fun, exciting profession to be a part of.”

Bozsik was one of two women making the presentation at Meneley, something Jackson said she appreciated.



“Two of the presenters were girls, so my girls were excited,” Jackson said. “It was a wonderful presentation, and the presenters did a fantastic job of career exploration in the field of engineering.”

Presentations included technology and engineering communication. In addition to bridge building, the engineers discuss electrical, environmental, and renewable energy engineering.

Then they break out the pulleys and levers to learn about simple machines.

Bozsik said she has a score of engineering students on staff who go out and give three to four presentations a day in Reno, Carson City and the rural areas of the state.

“It’s so popular we sent out an advertisement in the beginning of December and we’re completely booked through spring,” she said.

She said the program, which is privately funded by the Mallory Foundation, started about six years ago with one coordinator and a student.

“The coordinator was driving the student to the lessons,” she said. “Then it took on a life of its own. Now we have two donated vans that lets us drive out to lessons.”

Bozsik said she’s confident that the future of engineering is secure in Douglas County.

“We have students who come up to us and they want to be engineers,” she said. “That’s the best feed back we could possible get. It’s priceless.”

Jackson said her students enjoyed the presentation, pointing out that the girls in the class were especially interested.