External Relations

power point slide displaying event and sponsor information

National Engineers Week is one of the largest annual STEM events in the United States. Millions of students are engaged in engineering every year by individual volunteers and educators, technology companies, universities, museums, libraries, and community organizations at events throughout the US and around the world. 

The 2024 theme, “Welcome to the Future”, celebrated and embraced the achievements of our current leaders in engineering while paving the way for the future by sparking curiosity and inspiring the next generation of innovators.  

At WPI, two events were held during National Engineers week and February K-12 school break: Engineers on the Go & Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Both events were sponsored by our partners at Teradyne who are deeply engaged in STEM outreach at WPI throughout the year with the Engineering Ambassadors Program, Girls Who Code, Women’s Research and Mentorship Program (WRAMP) and the Summer Scholars Program. 

During these events, students from local Worcester elementary schools were invited by WPI’s Pre-Collegiate Outreach Programs (POP) team to learn about the engineering design process from WPI Engineering Ambassadors and to take part in hands-on-activities led by Biomedical Engineering Graduate students and WPI’s High Power Rocketry Club. 

Over 180 elementary school students attended the National Engineers Week events held in WPI’s Rubin Campus Center Odeum on Monday, February 19th, and Tuesday, February 20th. The events on both days were kicked off with a presentation led by WPI Engineering Ambassadors who welcomed students with warm and lighthearted introductions. One ambassador in particular, Fatimah Daffaie (junior in Biomedical Engineering), made herself relatable by sharing her passion for LEGO as well as a picture of herself as a young girl dressed as a Disney princess. This allowed the students to see her not only as a Biomedical Engineer but also as a person like themselves.  

The ambassadors gave the presentation in pairs and worked together to seamlessly weave personal elements into a talk that covered the fundamentals of engineering: what an engineer does, the different types of engineers, and finally how to become an engineer. At the end of the talk and on the count of three Fatimah invited the students to join her in shouting, “We are engineers!”. 

Over the microphone, announcements were made instructing students to move to activity stations cleverly color coded to match their name badges and dividing them into four large groups. The stations, four in total, were laid out in u-shape configurations covered in yellow, blue, green, and red tablecloths. 

The red “scribble bots” station taught the students the concepts behind direct current (DC) motors and how engineers use them in a variety of devices, from refrigerators to life saving robots. The activity also taught the students how to use the DC motors for fun by making a scribble bot.   

Engineering Ambassadors worked with the students to construct the scribble bots using pool noodles, markers, tape, and an electric toothbrush - which would serve as their DC motor. For the finishing touches they were given googly eyes and pipe cleaners to customize their bots. 

To “test” the scribble bots, students walked to an area where a large sheet of paper was taped to the floor. They set their bots down, powered them on and a kaleidoscope of scribble bots danced across the paper in circles. A few tipped over or moved diagonally which had those students asking the question, “Mine doesn’t move in circles, what did I do wrong?”  

This is the “ah-ha” moment where the ambassadors and POP team get to explain the impact of design and, in this case, weight distribution on the movement of the bot. At the end of the activity students were given zip lock bags to bring their bots home to share with their loved ones. 


students testing their scribble bots on large sheet of paper

The yellow “Makey Makey” station taught students the concepts of electricity and circuits, how engineers use electricity to power circuits, and how those power the many different devices in our world. 

At this station students used everyday objects to connect to a piano keyboard displayed on a laptop. Using a circuit board, alligator clips, a rubber glove, copper tape, and a USB cable, they used closed-loop electrical signals to send the computer a keyboard stroke that played a musical note on the piano keys displayed on a laptop, 

Throughout the course of two days, students and ambassadors uncovered an unexpected outcome, students with braces did not need the copper tape, they were natural conductors! 


Engineering Ambassador helping students create a closed loop circuit

The green “egg drop” station taught the students the concepts of gravity, force, acceleration, and momentum used in Aerospace Engineering. In this activity students designed a Lander for their teams’ “egg-stronaut” with WPI’s High Power Rocketry Club.  

Working in teams and using materials such as straws, popsicle sticks, paper cups, tape, an egg, and a bag, students designed a Lander that would be dropped from an 8-foot ladder by an HPRC team member. At the end of the design phase, each team’s Lander was tested by a WPI student climbing atop the ladder and shouting “3-2-1” before dropping them. 

Some egg-stronauts survived and some did not. Regardless of the outcome, all the students were encouraged to complete a final worksheet to explore what materials worked best, what materials were not as helpful and what they might change in the design if they did this activity again.  


High Powered Rocketry Club member checking to see if the students egg-stronaut survived the ladder drop

The blue “heart valve” station, was led by WPI Biomedical Engineering students and taught the concepts of designing, constructing, and implanting an artificial heart valve. 

In this activity, students worked in teams using a cardboard box containing two chambers and materials such as popsicle sticks, tape, and construction paper to build a valve that would allow red beads to only flow in one direction - mimicking the function of a heart valve in the human body. 


Graduate Biomedical Engineering student showing students an image of the heart while explaining the function of the heart valve

The end of each day was marked by a Pre-Collegiate Outreach Programs (POP) team member jumping on the microphone to ask the students four very important questions: 1) Who learned something new? 2) Who faced new challenges? 3) How did they overcome those challenges? And 4) what was their favorite station? 

One by one the students raised their hands and volunteered their answers.  The resounding theme was that the design process, although sometimes difficult, was made easier by working together, learning from failure, and asking questions. Also, the scribble bots and egg drop activities reigned supreme this year. 

Our favorite part however was seeing the new friendships formed from a day of working in teams and hearing students across both days and from varied backgrounds saying the same things, “I want to go to WPI," or “I want to be an Engineer and I can see myself doing this one day”.  

Thank you to our partners at Teradyne for sponsoring the National Engineers Week events at WPI! 

Sponsor Pre-Collegiate Outreach Programs at WPI: 

Partner with External Relations & Partnerships at WPI: