Bonneville Dam celebrates National Engineer Week
High school students from a dozen Portland-area schools visited Bonneville Lock and Dam Feb. 21 to celebrate Engineer Day. Students learn about structural engineering during a bridge building exercise.

As part of National Engineers Week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers welcomed more than 100 high school students from a dozen Portland-area high schools to Bonneville Lock and Dam Feb 21.

The Society of American Military Engineers partnered with the Portland District by sponsoring a mini-job fair and lunch for students. Local engineering firms such as Mead and Hunt, Inc. and Cooper Zietz Engineers hosted booths providing information to students about their organizations and career opportunities.

Portland District Commander Col. John Eisenhauer kicked off the day's activities by addressing the current global need for science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals. "With a shortage of applicants in these areas, you are in a unique position to pursue a career where you will be highly valued," he told the high school juniors and seniors. He encouraged them to ask lots of questions and gather ideas that will help them make their future college and career decisions.

Students learned about structural engineering during a bridge building exercise, about generating hydropower as they toured one of Bonneville Dam's powerhouses and then created their own power sources from magnets and pieces of copper wire. They also learned about environmental engineering, learning about engineering actions undertaken by the Corps to help fish safely pass through dams on the Columbia and Willamette River systems.

Rich Weber, a construction teacher from Benson High School, said it was a first for many of his students who had never been to the dam before. "It was good [for] them get outside of Portland and see the Columbia Gorge and the dam," he said. "[They also] learned about some of the professional opportunities available to them they might not have thought about before."

Students left the event around 4 p.m. armed with resources for their future -- and tired from a day filled with constant activity and tours.

"My students had an incredible field trip and memorable day -- they were so exhausted from learning that they slept the entire drive back to Portland," said Maylnda Wolfer, a math teacher from Gresham High School.

Page last updated Thu February 28th, 2013 at 11:42