Mont Alto STEM Camp students get education in engineering

By: Joyce Nowell, Herald Mail Media

SHADY GROVE, Pa. — When high school students attending this week’s Penn State Mont Alto STEM Camp visited Manitowoc in Shady Grove on Wednesday, they found themselves surrounded by lots of engineers.

Not coincidentally, they all had Penn State engineering degrees behind their names, making it an appropriate place to learn about potential careers in the field.

“Everyone helping with the camp today graduated from Penn State,” Manitowoc design engineer Bradley Calaman said. “We’re here today because we’d like to see them get a broad understanding of engineering in general.”

All week, the incoming ninth- and 10th-graders are exploring science, technology, engineering and mathematics through hands-on activities.

Another field trip was to the state-of-the art Pennsylvania Research and Teaching Laboratory for Biofuels at Penn State Harrisburg to learn about high-tech DNA-profiling techniques.

Calaman told the students that, depending on the engineering concentration, every part of STEM is important.

“Really, engineering is very broad,” he said. “We’re trying to give them a taste of a lot of different things that we do here.”

Seeing the options has been important for rising freshman Jeffrey Stonehill of Chambersburg.

“It’s been a very informative experience,” he said. “It’s been all over the place, but that’s very good.

“They (Manitowoc engineers) seem very true to what they do. I think it’s a very important and a difficult job to engineer, create, manufacture and do all of these things with these cranes. It’s very impressive.”

Conor Clark, 15, who attends Williamsport High School in Williamsport, Md., has been especially interested in the engineering experiences of the week.

“I’ve learned a lot about engineering, from biofuels to mechanical engineering, with the cranes and hydraulics,” he said. “I could see myself getting into mechanical engineering in the future.

“This helps me better understand how mechanical engineering works and how you can create a living for yourself.”

David Dietrich, who showed the students around a crane Wednesday, said he came to Manitowoc with an engineering degree and now is a commodity manager.

“Engineering can take you in all directions,” he said. “It’s been a very good background for my career. With my background, I have a better technical understanding of the commodities that we’re buying.”

Helen McGarry, Penn State Mont Alto’s director of continuing education, is encouraging students to explore STEM and their futures.

“We want them to really appreciate how many opportunities there are and that are emerging all the time,” she said. “We want to get them excited.”

Need to start or move your business?