SEE Week 2018

"Sharing the Love of the Heart of Christ"

June 4-8, 2018

Cor Jesu’s exciting Summer Engineering Experience (SEE) is a five-day learning adventure designed for 20 rising juniors and seniors, who are interested in discovering more about the field of engineering. Each day, M-Thurs, has a different engineering focus, involving students, at various sites, in hands-on activities reflective of that focus and the varied engineering disciplines involved therein. The week concludes back at Cor Jesu with a panel of participating professionals and STEM faculty who help facilitate student discussion/presentations about what they had learned and what conclusions—about the field of engineering and about themselves— can be drawn and applied to the Cor Jesu mission to transform the world. 

Monday, June 4 - Burns & McDonnell

    • Cor Jesu Math Department Faculty Member  Colleen Rankowski observes as students budget and plan for their bridge building project

      Cor Jesu Math Department Faculty Member Colleen Rankowski observes as students budget and plan for their bridge building project

Engineering Consulting

SEE. 2018 kicked off at the Chesterfield offices of engineering consultants, Burns & McDonnell with a bridge building competition. Students worked in groups of four to design a bridge, purchase building materials, and then build. Each bridge needed to span 12 inches and support a full water bottle for at least 30 seconds to be considered a success. Design plans changed along the way as each group worked through trials and errors in their building process, ultimately resulting in three successful designs! All agreed the final bridge tested was the most aesthetically pleasing of the three designs.

Later in the morning, team members Allison White and Julie Whitehead explained how Burns & McDonnell serves their various clients using different types of engineering. SEE students asked some great questions about the day-to-day schedule of an engineer and the team collaboration involved in successful engineering.
After fun and informative conversation with Burns & McDonnell interns over lunch, students were on to their next challenge: build a catapult using rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and plastic spoons. The challenge was to design the catapult with the furthest launching distance at the lowest cost. The group with the best launching distance catapulted a ball 16 feet, but they also spent the most money. Each group felt they would tweak their design somewhat if given a second chance.

In the final activity of the day, the girls got a great taste of engineering team project work by examining drawings for a Monsanto building designed by Burns & McDonnell. Each student group was given one of a set of four specified drawings to study – architectural, mechanical, structural, and electrical. After looking at the drawings in small groups and then as a large group, students questioned how the steps unfold to make a project so large in scope come together successfully. A great discussion resulted in which Julie explained that projects begin with the architects, and, initially, their work drives the other project pieces. She then pointed out that, throughout the project, each separate planning group impacts and is impacted by the others. Therefore, the tweaking and revising the students had done on their bridge and catapults is exactly how a successful project comes together. And open and clear communication is key! With some solid engineering principles under their belt, SEE students head to St. Louis University Park College tomorrow to dive into aerospace and biomedical engineering!

Tuesday, June 5 - SLU Parks College

    • Students spend time in the BME lab with Scott Sell, PhD exploring polymers

      Students spend time in the BME lab with Scott Sell, PhD exploring polymers' roles in tissue engineering

Aerospace & Biomedical Engineering

Our day at SLU Parks College was packed with learning activities! The morning’s focus was Biomedical Engineering, led by Scott Sell, PhD, professor in the BME school. Dr. Sell specializes in tissue engineering, a subset of biomedical engineering that uses concepts from biology, chemistry and engineering to repair and replace damaged tissue and organs.

The students were shown three types of scaffolding techniques used to engineer tissue – electrospinning, cryogels, and hydrogels. They learned that different techniques are used for different functions, and applications include encapsulating cells and generating scaffolding to help tissue to grow.
Working in groups of three, students first became familiar with alginate, the process for making alginate hydrogels. They were then tasked with creating three different kinds of alginate hydrogels and testing their compressive strength to compare with the properties of native tissues.
From tissue engineering, we moved on to a robotics demonstration. The robot we saw was designed to perform spinal surgery. It picked up screws and then screwed them into a foam board, a test for its ultimate purpose of putting screws into a human spine in surgery. Ultimately, this robot is designed to be used in conjunction with computer imaging so that surgeons can perform difficult procedures with more ease and precision.

Lunch came next—a great visit with Engineering Dean Michelle Sabick and a wonderful group of SLU Engineering students and graduates. CJ students had the opportunity to ask many questions about the different types of engineering majors at Parks, what an engineering education looks and feels like and how the SLU students chose their particular disciplines.

After lunch, we moved into Aerospace Engineering and saw two different examples of wind tunnels used to test the aerodynamics of different airplane designs. After learning the basic principles involved in making wind tunnels, students tried their hand at building one—working in pairs to achieve the highest wind speed possible using fans, cardboard and tape. Tests of each trial let them know how successful they were!

We ended our day learning about drones. SLU students who are working with drones to increase their distance and ability to autocorrect and avoid unpredicted obstacles performed various demonstrations. Then CJ students took a turn at the controls, flying both a large and a small drone. Some pilots were more successful than others, but everyone had a great time! Our day at SLU Parks College was enlightening, active and fun! Tomorrow we board the bus to Hannibal, MO to explore Manufacturing and Mechanical engineering with Watlow!

Wednesday, June 6 - Watlow

    • Cole Painter, Watlow machine shop team member, demonstrates laser technology use by crafting each student a name plate with a metal rose attached

      Cole Painter, Watlow machine shop team member, demonstrates laser technology use by crafting each student a name plate with a metal rose attached

Manufacturing Engineering

Our day at Watlow started bright and early with a 7:00am bus ride to their Hannibal, MO plant. Throughout the day, we were given a unique insight into the importance of teamwork, communication, collaboration, and efficiency, as it relates to the engineering world. We started things off with a competitive icebreaker that highlighted all four of those qualities, as students worked in teams to pass a ball through everyone’s hands in the shortest amount of time. Fun to see the creative ways students worked to accomplish this task!

We then headed upstairs to experience “G-Time”, named for George Desloge, Watlow’s founder, who believed it was essential in product research and design to test, test and test again. These labs were created so that any engineer with a new idea can carve out time to effectively test their theory. There we saw a computer model of a heat pump Watlow is designing for Starbucks to brew a single serving of coffee beginning with whole beans and ending with a cup of coffee in just 30 seconds. Talk about something the students can relate to! The new product will cut down on the waste generated by Starbucks’ policy of changing out carafes of coffee every thirty minutes. The engineers discussed the design and testing phases of the project and how computer models and 3-D printers are used to create prototypes for testing. Very fun to get the insider look at a future consumer benefit!

An introduction to production concepts in manufacturing came next with a fun Lego airplane exercise. Teams of five were tasked with manufacturing thirty Lego airplanes in just six minutes, and after the first failed round of attempts, the girls generated ideas to improve the production process. Ideas included dividing tasks more evenly among team members and having parts ready to go at each phase of production for the “start of day” (i.e. the start of the timed six minutes). Through Watlow team project leads, each student team experienced disruptions in the supply chain and defective products that had to be scrapped. The was an amazingly effective way to learn the advantages offered by Watlow’s one-piece flow manufacturing, where a product is created from start to finish as a single product rather than in larger batches.

After lunch with the members of the fun and friendly Watlow team, we broke into smaller groups for a tour of Watlow’s plant. We talked with plant employees along the way and saw the different pieces involved in manufacturing the components of, assembling and shipping an electric heater. The size and scope of the plant were very impressive.

With a huge amount of learning and experience behind us, we ended our day with some welcome silliness, taking photo booth pictures with the many friends we had made at Watlow. The bus ride home gave students important time to work together on strategizing their case study solutions for Friday’s presentations. We’re looking forward to our last stop of SEE week tomorrow exploring biotech engineering at Monsanto!

Thursday, June 7 - Monsanto

    • Cor Jesu students learn about Biotech Engineering while viewing a model greenhouse at Monsanto

      Cor Jesu students learn about Biotech Engineering while viewing a model greenhouse at Monsanto

Biotech Engineering

The highlight of our trip to Monsanto had to be the impressive tour of the Chesterfield Village Research Center. On the tour, we were introduced to principles and techniques used by Monsanto in their ongoing efforts to create better crops. We looked at the roles of hi-tech genotyping and seed chipping in the study of plants on a large scale. We saw how the transfer of genetic material can introduce engineered traits such as resistance to particular insects as a way to help plants flourish and yield higher levels of crops. Our visit to the growth chamber and greenhouses provided a glimpse into the controlled environments Monsanto uses to test biotech plants and find ways to improve them. In the Technical Discovery Center, we saw a wide range of 3-D printers that are used to create prototypes in product development. The tour concluded with a fascinating look at how data can be collected on large plots of land to help inform farmers of soil and weather conditions from year to year. Monitoring this data allows farmers to choose appropriate crops for different climate conditions over time.

After lunch, we listened to a presentation by Angela Perkins, Senior Recruiter for Technology, about careers and internship opportunities at Monsanto. Then one of the guides, Kevin Coffman, led a discussion about sustainability in modern agriculture. Following this exchange, students took part in a fun “farmer competition” working in teams to plan how to spend their allotted funds to acquire resources and materials for successful farming in three diverse growing regions. The ultimate goal was to maximize their return on investment. This was an effective way to help us understand the types of decisions farmers face, and the role Monsanto takes in helping overcome growth and yield challenges.

Russell Jones, a mechanical engineer, shared his personal career experience, starting at Monsanto as an intern before moving into a permanent role. He shared consistent qualities that successful engineers at Monsanto possess, which proved to be common threads from out week: collaboration, creativity and failing well! It was a full day and a great ending to a terrific week of learning and discovery. Students have been working hard on their case study presentations and we are all looking forward to sharing stories tomorrow back at CJ!

Friday, June 8 - Cor Jesu Academy

    • Students returned to Cor Jesu to present the findings of their case study

      Students returned to Cor Jesu to present the findings of their case study

Wrap-Up & Conclusions

Our very full and informational week concluded today back at Cor Jesu with breakfast in the Commons and a chance for students, corporate hosts, administration, faculty and parents to enjoy visiting together informally. CJ President, Sr. Barbara Thomas welcomed all, commending the students for participating in SEE week and thanking all the hosting organizations that made it possible. The group then had the treat of viewing the SEE week video which was shot, compiled and edited by CJ Videographer, Cyndi Mahne, and did a wonderful job of highlighting all that the week had held.

Next came the students’ small group presentations. Students were charged, at the start of the week, with researching and exploring solutions for one of four local case studies. Each case represented a different societal and/or environmental problem, about which student groups presented background and detailed information, the specific challenges posed, their proposed solutions and some projected implications from those solutions. Corporate hosts, faculty and parents asked probing questions to challenge the students and, without fail, were provided excellent answers! The caliber of these presentations was truly exceptional and reflected not only the drive and determination of the SEE students, but also the quality of their week’s learnings as they applied to each case.

Each hosting organization shared some closing thoughts with the SEE students—commending them for their hard work and desire to learn, and encouraging them to stay in touch with the professionals they had met over the week as a means for navigating their future. Certificates, group photos and gifts for our students and hosts were distributed, as CJ Principal Sr. Veronica Beato added her thanks for a truly exceptional SEE week!

SEE Week Photo Gallery