West Point chemical engineers provide STEM outreach
By Mike Strasser, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsFebruary 13, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 13, 2013) -- The laboratories remained opened Monday evening inside Bartlett Hall North to welcome some visitors into the world of chemical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy.The West Point chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers hosted nearly 20 students and several of their parents from the Animals Around the World 4-H Club of New Paltz.The students, ranging from ages 8 to 18, received some hands-on instruction from chemical engineering majors on how to chemically power a small model car. Then they field tested their work to see if they applied the right science to make the cars move a specified distance.Class of 2013 Cadet Josh Dillard joined the club after deciding his major in October 2010. The chemical engineering cadet is also part of the five-member ChemE Car Team."I think what interested me the most was being able to use these chemical theories and then find its applications to powering the fuel cell car," Dillard said.Lt. Col. Robert Bozic, the club's officer-in-charge, asked Class of 2013 Cadet Matt Letarte last year what change he would make as president."I said I would like to do a K-12 outreach event, which is something I thought would be beneficial for both cadets and for the community we impact," Letarte said.Letarte, who previously served as club treasurer and secretary, has three younger brothers and enjoys working with students."I love working with kids and this was a good opportunity to show students our chemical engineering projects," Letarte said. "The ChemE Cars are an easy way to show them what we do and how we can use chemical engineering for cool stuff."Other club members shared similar sentiments. The sweetest smelling area on the fourth floor of Bartlett Hall is home to the West Point Chocolate Factory. Two of its head confectioners agreed that spending time with the young students was a rewarding experience. The cadets enjoyed their reaction to the chocolate samples, something they are used to getting from classmates every time they pass around their creations."Kids are just fun to be around," Class of 2013 Cadet Amy Hill, head confectioner, said. "I enjoy spending time with them and teach them new things ... and hopefully make an impact on what they choose to do."Making chocolate makes people happy and that's one of the reasons Class of 2013 Cadet David Arrowchis chose to work in the club's Chocolate Factory."I'm always super-critical of myself and what I do, so being able to make chocolate and seeing everybody smile and happy about it is fun," Arrowchis said.Chemical Engineering and Life Science faculty also participated in the event, imparting their expertise to the STEM service project. Maj. Andy Kick and Dr. Michael Labare welcomed students into the physiology lab where they tested their strength using electronic muscle measurement equipment.
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