SEE Week 2019

"Sharing the Love of the Heart of Christ"

SEE Week 2019 Highlights

June 3-7, 2019

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 3 - Danforth Plant Science Center

    • Cor Jesu students visit the Danforth Plant Science Center as part of SEE Week 2019

We kicked off our exciting week at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Upon arrival, we were given an overview of the Center’s mission; specifically that research is being done there to enhance plants for nourishment and healing. Sandra, our host, is originally from Colombia, South America and we enjoyed hearing how her career in science has taken her from birds to plants to soil to now, educational outreach. Assisting Sandra was Allison, a 20-year-old student who began her relationship with Danforth as a volunteer several years ago and is now a paid educational assistant.

Our tour of these impressive facilities started with the flag display in the lobby, representing the staff scientists’ countries of origin. We stopped and tried to name them, but weren’t 100% successful…we agreed that Ms. Ploesser would have nailed this! Next Kevin gave us an interesting tour of the growth chambers and greenhouses. In these controlled environments, we learned that scientists can isolate and change just one variable in order to uncover research findings. Christian explained and showed us the systems involved in their research, including HVAC, water and filtration. We were struck at how carefully designed these were and how interesting it was to see how they all worked together. Several students thought it would be fun to get to design and build this type of space!

Next, we had a really cool Virtual Reality experience, watching four separate clips: Life of an Oak Tree, Breaking Boundaries in Science, Wheat Harvest Experience and Svalbard Seeds in 3D. We all really enjoyed this and some students got to experience virtual reality for the first time.

Next, we learned about phenotyping from Mindy who showed us how an assembly line approach is implemented in the process. Every plant has its own code and sensors determine how the various parts of the assembly line respond to the plant. We were amazed at the many kinds of engineers involved in its creation, including electrical, mechanical and computer. Mrs. Schuering’s favorite quote: “1000 plants in a study increases the statistical power!”

Lunch followed with a chance to enjoy some relaxed conversation, games and a break from thinking so hard!
Then on to visit the Maker Group, a forum for Center members to explore constructing low-cost hardware and software engineering tools. Nate explained how he applied for a grant and is using the 3-D printer there to make tripods and other tools that help him to record data from the growth of a plant. Interestingly, Danforth Center scientists get to spend 20% of their work time following a lead and exploring a particular interest of their choosing.

Nadia told us her story of leaving her job at a makeup company to become a project manager on a Gates foundation grant at Danforth, working on research associated with sorghum productivity for African nations. In addition to finding her research very interesting, the students enjoyed hearing about Nadia’s startup involving a Phenode, which is a data collection device for plants and also getting a woman’s perspective about this career and the opportunities it has allowed her.

We took a deep dive into microscopy with Kirk and were all amazed at the wide variety of machines used at the Center to capture what is needed for their research—definitely more than we had ever imagined! Finally, Keith taught us that x-ray technology is not just for humans! It is used extensively in plant research and allows scientists to rotate specimens and capture a 3D image. This surprised and interested us all!

This was a really full and exciting day full of discovery in a scientific area new to all of us! Tomorrow we look forward to heading to SLU Parks College for new experiences in biomedical and civil engineering

Tuesday, June 4 - SLU Parks College

    • Cor Jesu students learn about Civil Engineering at SLU-Parks College

When we arrived at Parks College on the campus of St. Louis University, Amy Preiss, our on-site coordinator, and Dr. Scott Sell who conducts research in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in the Biomedical Engineering Department greeted us in the lobby.
Amy and Dr. Sell proposed an icebreaker activity to start the day and get everyone in the mood to learn and have fun. Students were given a jumbo marshmallow, popsicle sticks, string, a plastic bag, straws and masking tape and tasked with creating a way to launch their marshmallow from a table to one of two bins, using only one hand. Congrats to the winning team: Isabel L, Sarah, and Jessica!

As we began our time with Dr. Sell, he explained that his work involves creating materials for the human body like cartilage, bones, skin, arteries, which have the mechanical properties to allow them to perform as well as the materials naturally produced by the body. Used in the process are polymers, alginate, hydrogels and scaffolding. Dr. Sell had the students compare the stiffness of materials created when 1%, 2% and 3% alginate was added to calcium chloride. Through this process, we discovered that the higher concentrations of alginate made the tissues more solid. We then added the alginate to calcium sulfate, which reacted more slowly, allowing it to be molded into shapes. With their excellent chemistry prep from CJ, students deduced that the calcium chloride gives up the calcium more easily than the sulfate. We then did several exercises to review these formulas for stress and strain. Finally, we did a lab in which we created three different kinds of alginate hydrogels, determined a way to test their strength and then compared them to fat, bone, brain, cartilage, muscle and skin. This was an exciting hands-on way to better understand what biomedical engineering can look like!

After a delicious Jimmy Johns lunch with two BME female professors and one BME graduate student who shared their backgrounds and advice about pursuing the field, we headed to the new Structural Engineering Lab to learn about Civil Engineering.

Our host, Dr. Carroll and some of his students had the girls guess how many pounds one steel truss that weighs 80 pounds will hold. We were flabbergasted to hear that it will actually hold 16,000 pounds!
In three small groups, we did force and moment problems. For example, when a 200-pound person stands in the middle of a six-foot fiberglass beam, the scales at each end measured 100 pounds. If a person stands one foot from one scale and five feet from the other, then the closer scale holds 5/6 of the weight and the far scale holds 1/6 of the weight. Then, we had two people stand in different positions, calculated the weight on each scale, and tested our calculations. To make it even more interesting, we traded the six-foot beam for a 12-foot beam and the scale was moved to four feet from the end to create a cantilever. We calculated how far a 112-pound person should stand to balance a 200-pound person two feet from the end. Then we tested it. Success! Thank you Mr. Russell! Seniors remembered these as the “elephant” problems, and taught the incoming juniors what they have ahead of them next year! We then moved from one dimension to two dimensions and were able to estimate the weight at each of the scales on the four corners of a rectangular frame.

Finally, divided into groups of four or five, the students were challenged to build a tower with KNEX. It had to be 18 inches tall and hold 15 pounds. Kanisha, Abby, Kaitlyn, and Isobel had the first KA-BOOM! But they quickly analyzed their tower and started over to correct the problems. Every group gained momentum as they tested their designs and made improvements. We all agreed that failing along the way is how we learn! This was a really fun and instructive team building effort and a great day at SLU with lots of variety and activity! Looking forward to visiting Watlow’s Advanced Technology Center tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 5 - Watlow

    • Cor Jesu students learn about Manufacturing Engineering at a visit to Watlow during SEE Week

Our visit to Watlow’s new Advanced Technology Center was packed with discovery for the students as we talked with professionals, toured the manufacturing plant, observed processes and participated in creative and fun activities that helped apply all the learnings! For example, after having the principles of LEAN manufacturing explained, students worked in teams to assemble Lego airplanes and, with the help of team managers from Watlow, personally experienced just how those principles work to ensure maximum efficiency, quality and productivity.

Students also had some fun with coding during our Sphero bowling activity and even got to try their hand at assembling their own heater. Throughout the day, the nice balance between more passive learning and hands-on activities made for a very informational and enjoyable experience.

Although some of our group had visited Watlow previously for an exp3 experience, all the students were rather amazed at what they learned today about all the steps involved in the manufacturing process and, in particular, the necessity of teamwork and collaboration to accomplish goals. The friendly, welcoming team members who spoke with us in small groups at lunch and throughout the day reinforced this message by how they seemed to enjoy their jobs and how interested they were in teaching, sharing their stories and spending time with us.

With so much application having happened today, ask your daughter some of the following questions and you will learn even more about all we learned and experienced today:

What does it mean for a process to be LEAN?

What did your team do that sped up the process of completing five times?

Describe evidence of waste in your daily routine: transportation, waiting, motion, defects, inventory, overproduction, extra-processing, non-utilized talent.

What did you learn from the airplane building assembly line activity?

Share one story about the way that a Watlow team member followed a nontraditional path to their current career.

What are the basic elements of a heating cartridge?

What would be some advantages and disadvantages of being a worker in a factory line?

Would you wear ear protection if you were a worker in a factory line? Why?

What were the challenges of getting your robot to knock down the bowling pins?

Would robots be able to complete the tasks that you saw performed on the manufacturing floor?

What is a thermal loop? Tea? Lemonade? Mixed?

Would you like to work at Watlow?

Tomorrow we head to Burns & McDonnell to learn what it means to be an engineering consultant!

Thursday, June 6 - Burns & McDonnell

    • Students from Cor Jesu work to build a ping pong ball catapult as part of their day at Burns & McDonnell for SEE Week

We started our fourth and final field day of SEE Week at engineering consultants, Burns & McDonnell. Our site host and project engineers, Julie Whitehead (who is also a CJ alumna!) and Allison White, gave us an overview of their company and the plans for the day.

We dug right in with a Bridge Build Competition in which students, working in teams, were tasked with building a bridge that would span 12-inches, support a full water bottle and cost less than $10,000. Teams were given 10 minutes to plan, five minutes to purchase and 20 minutes to build. Materials cost $1000 per cup, $1000 for five straws, $1,000 for 12-inches of tape and $500 for an empty water bottle. To give the students a real feel for the work, a $500 premium was placed on their order if they wanted to purchase additional materials along the way. What a valuable exercise in working toward a goal while staying in budget! No two creations were alike, but Team Emma, Sarah, Kanisha and Abby were the winners! Following the activity, there was a valuable debrief which helped the students consider what they would do differently.

Julie and Alli did a great job of comparing this experience to the work of an engineer, as they described the variety of projects that Burns & McDonnell has done and walked students through what a typical day in the life of an engineer might look like. They also shared practical information about crafting a successful resume, tips for landing a position and how to create a personal and online brand.

Our lunch was shared with the new class of Burns & Mac interns, which was relaxed, fun and informative.

Next, we had a Catapult Challenge activity, again working in teams with budget and timing constraints. The goals was to build a catapult that, operated by only one person, would shoot a ping-pong ball the farthest distance. This time a bonus was announced for finishing early which made things even more interesting. Congrats to winners Team Isobel D and Emma H!

Our final activity focused on interdisciplinary collaboration. Student teams were each given a role: architectural, mechanical, structural or electrical. Reviewing blueprints, students made a list of questions they would ask the engineers in the other groups. It was a great way to better understand how engineering consultants need to work collaboratively in the construction process. At Burns & Mac it was eye-opening to see how many of the specialties that we had explored earlier in the week can all come together in real world projects.

If you are interested in learning more about today from your daughter, here are some additional prompting questions:

How is an employee-owned business different from a family-owned business?

What does it mean that Burns and McDonnell is a multi-disciplinary company?
What is LEED certification? Explain how it is a cost-benefit trade-off.

What would you do differently if you got to the bridge building or catapult activity again?

What are some of the things that engineers have to plan for when they are building a structure?

Looking forward to our Wrap-Up tomorrow at Cor Jesu and hearing our students share their week’s work of learning!

Friday, June 7 - Cor Jesu

    • Cor Jesu 2019 SEE Week participating students

This morning our SEE hosting organizations, participating students, their parents and CJ faculty and staff gathered over coffee and bagels in the Cor Jesu Commons to share conversation and stories about the week. On the monitors there, we all enjoyed a slide show put to music, created by CJ Director of Marketing and Social Media, Colleen Barry Weber that visually recapped all the learning and fun experienced in the previous four days. Though the week had been very full, there was a sense of excitement and energy among the students as they met with Mrs. Schuering to do a quick run-through of their presentations before sharing them with the rest of us.

Student groups were arranged before the week began. Each group was assigned a prompt and given background information on their topic and questions to solve for their presentation. These prompts focused primarily on specific site visit, but related in other ways to all the days of the week. Group prompts were:

I. Machines Behind Plant Science Research
II. Designing, Evaluating and Utilizing Materials in Biomedical and Civil Engineering
III. Improving Manufacturing Processes/Process Automation
IV. Interdisciplinary Coordination in Building Design

Each of the groups wow’d us with the depth of their understanding and application of the content they were given! Several of their suggestions for improvement impressed our corporate hosts greatly. And, beyond their content, the professional slides they created and the confidence with which they presented made everyone in the room feel gratified by the part they had played in SEE Week.

Corporate hosts shared their high regard for the program and specifically the students, noting their exceptional engagement and eagerness to learn. They also encouraged students to stay in touch and apply for internship opportunities within the next few years. Rita Ryan, CJ Science Department Chair and part of the original design team for SEE Week, expressed her appreciation for the generosity of our corporate hosts and then presented each student with a certificate to acknowledge their dedication and commitment to learning.

It was a perfect ending to an amazing week of collaboration. And the goal we all shared--of exposing and guiding students to learn more about themselves and the field of engineering--was met and exceeded. Congrats and thank you to our corporate hosts and to these exceptional students!

SEE Week 2019 Photo Gallery