From Rub Goldberg to robotics, future engineers show their stuff.
Once again I had the pleasure of attending the SEED Academy graduation held each year at MIT. The institute's program targets urban high schoolers in the cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Lawrence Massachusetts in developing their interest in science and technology professions, topped with a dose of "life skills" as well.
It is always impressive to see the enthusiasm of these young people and the pride they take in their projects. This past year, freshman were tasked with coming up with Rube Goldberg mechanisms that would accomplish (in a complex manner) simple actions such as turning a key, turning on a light, or cleaning a plate. Sophomores took up aero/astro topics using model rockets and gliders. Juniors and seniors worked on robotics, integrating sensors, programming, and actuation to have their robots accomplish actions including obstacle avoidance and choosing objects based on color.
After presenting their projects, students heard from Dwight Williams, chief engineer and principal nuclear physicist for the U.S. Dept. of Defense, and a visiting professor at MIT. Williams is the first African-American named National Young Engineer of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers, and is active in mentoring students and professionals. "I have every expectation that some of these people are going to do even better than I have done. That is one way to measure my own success," he notes.