Engineering Expo Brings Engineers and STEM Ideas Alive

The engineering expo at the University of South Florida is a yearly event that seeks to educate K12
students about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM. The Expo is a free two-day event and features hands-on exhibits and shows that encourage students to explore STEM-based fields. The event offers a fun and unique opportunity for students across Tampa Bay and the central Florida to interact with local engineers and engineering student organizations at USF. FLATE has always participated at the Expo as it serves as an effective outreach mechanism to reach out to local students and educators, and inform them about FLATE’s STEM programs for middle and high school students as well as manufacturing jobs and career paths.

This year the Engineering Expo hosted approximately 14,000 students, youth groups and families. There
were large demos and shows presented by local engineering firms. FLATE was there at the expo, and featured a gamut of displays that piqued many a students’ interest. The FLATE team included Dr. Marilyn Barger, Dr. Richard Gilbert and Danielly Orozco. It was a learning experience for FLATE student assistants Alejandro Rojas and Elizabeth Duran who were also on site to promote FLATE’s STEM programs. Rojas who is currently pursuing an A. S degree at Hillsborough Community College and intends to major in mechanical engineering stated the Expo helped sharpen his communication skills as he helped students design buttons while answering questions about the applications of STEM concepts in each of the activities. Visitors to the FLATE booth also learned about manufacturing careers, free online lesson plans, manufacturing video and curriculum.

The “FLATE Wheel of Fortune” was once a hit as students and visitors to the booth attempted to answer
trivia questions on Florida manufacturing. The hands-on button making activity facilitated by FLATE student assistants was hugely popular as students formed a constant line to try their hand in button making while applying manufacturing concepts. A total of 200 badges were made during the Expo! FLATE staff also shared information with teachers about the engineering technology program at Hillsborough Community College and at 18 state and community colleges across Florida. The Expo’s mission to “provide safe, entertaining, and educational exhibits to visitors so that they become more passionate and more involved in engineering, and show them how STEM affects the world around them” was fully accomplished as groups of excited and engaged students asked lots of questions, while touring exhibits and taking part in interactive activities and contests.

For more information on the engineering expo visit http://expo.eng.usf.edu. For information on local engineering technology programs at Florida high school and two/four year colleges visit www.madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.