Six-Week Summer Internship Provides High School Students with Hands-On STEM Activities
GHD Foundation and GHD have teamed up with the Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities (BEAM) organization to offer a six-week summer internship program to ten students entering their senior year at Hutchinson Central Technical High School. The program introduces the students to a range of technical and professional experiences within the STEM disciplines. Whilst this is the third year GHD running the internship program, this year has been expanded to include crucial tech support from the GHD Foundation.
BEAM is a nonprofit organization committed to building diversity in STEM fields by encouraging, supporting and preparing underrepresented students in the Buffalo area to pursue a career in a STEM or technical related field. BEAM programs are targeted toward the population of minorities and young women.
John Davis, Buffalo-based GHD Foundation volunteer and GHD Project Manager, is eager to give back to his community. “Our relationships within the communities we serve are an important part of our ongoing success and what better way to enhance those relationships than to provide the next generation of engineers with resources and a professional network. The program we created with BEAM provides opportunities for high school students interested in STEM disciplines to learn about our company and its people while teaching them skills that will support their future educational and career goals.”
With guidance and instruction, students learn about the various disciplines of engineering through a variety of hands-on projects and conclude with a final group collaboration project to build a mini pump station using the concepts they learn throughout the program. The program includes field trips, coaching in professional skills such as business etiquette, presentation techniques, and the building of meaningful networks through the creation of a LinkedIn profile. The experience culminates with a final presentation made by each student.
To support this year’s program and the ongoing success of the participating students, GHD Foundation provided a grant to purchase laptops and iPads for each student to use and keep. These tools were utilised by the students throughout the program to access the virtual modules, learn CAD, communicate with the team, create their closing presentations, and build their online profiles. The concepts learned throughout the internship provide students significant exposure to STEM careers and insight into what a career pathway to engineering would entail.
The impact of our contributions is large. Ben Higgins, US Congressman representing Buffalo, NY says that “Engineering firms can influence the diversity of STEM college graduates by engaging with public school systems in communities of color to develop curriculum focused on professional development, careers in engineering, as well as the engineering school experience. With so many great challenges in the US such as aging infrastructure, energy, and water crises, engineering firm-centric internships for a diverse set of high school students will bring about innovation and relevant skill sets to solve these real-world challenges.”
“BEAM’s partnership allows invaluable preparation for students exploring careers in technical fields,” said Katherine Heinle, BEAM Executive Director. “The program allows students to work alongside engineers on hands-on projects and learn not only technical but professional skills that will provide them with lifelong resources to rely on for future endeavors.”