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News @ ODU

Middle School Students Engage in Design Contests

Middle schools in Newport News have taken seriously Governor Bob McDonnell's push for more applied science education in the earlier grades, and changed their curriculum to incorporate more engineering design.

As a culmination of this, a school district-wide design contest was held in Peninsula middle schools, and the top 48 student designs were entered in a final contest held at Old Dominion.

The contest, which was judged by school officials as well as members of local industry, including judges from Huntington Ingalls, CDI Marine, URS, and WRSystems, was held in conjunction with the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology's Engineering Open House, a two-day event designed to expose middle and high school students to the college and its offerings.

On Friday, February 17, 340 students toured the college, where they saw demonstrations in 17 labs in Kaufman Hall. In addition to the design contest, Saturday served as Womengineers Day, and featured a keynote address by Kathy Bethany, a 1981 graduate from ODU's Batten College, who helps the federal government oversee building costs around the world as director of the Office of Cost Management in the Overseas Building Operations of the U.S. State Department.

Bev Forbes, director of experiential education programs with ODU's Career Management Center, and liaison to the Batten College, said the Engineering Open House provides real value to the prospective students, and to the university.

"When students have a chance to see the laboratories in action and participate in the contests, the field of engineering becomes more real to them," Forbes said. "Having a prominent female speaker for the Womengineering keynote address and luncheon allows all of our visitors to see the role of women in a career area that has been predominantly male.

"In addition to providing a valuable experience to prospective students and their families, Engineering Open House provides an effective recruiting tool. Some of our best students have shared that they remember coming to Engineering Open House as middle or high school students. I truly believe this two-day event provides a way for the college to market our programs in an engaging, interactive way."