UC and ASCE's "Dream Big" Event Inspires Future Engineers

Story By:  Brandon Pytel
Video By: Corrie Stookey

Date: June 7, 2018

On May 11, UC and ASCE co-hosted “Dream Big,” an event to inspire 450 elementary and middle school students to enter the STEM field. 

The University of Cincinnati (UC) wants future engineers to dream big. On May 11, the Cincinnati Section of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and UC’s Student ASCE Chapter, along with the Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) department, co-hosted “Dream Big,” an event that brought nearly 450 Cincinnati and Milford public school students to UC’s campus.

Students from fourth to seventh grade spent the day at UC, exploring the STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – field and getting inspired about engineering. The day centered on the 42-minute film, “Dream Big,” produced by ASCE and MacGillivray Freeman Films. The film, narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, follows three professional engineers and their path to enter the engineering field.

student piecing together plastic pipes over a map.

Students participate in the water supply system design activity.

“We wanted ‘Dream Big’ to be a life-changing event that will stick in the minds of those kids forever,” Julie Cromwell, educational outreach committee chair for the Cincinnati Section of ASCE. “For a lot of the kids there, it was their first exposure to STEM-related activities.”

In addition to showing the film, UC and ASCE hosted several other events and activities throughout the day. Design engineer Adam House gave a keynote presentation on Kings Island’s Mystic Timbers rollercoaster and the engineering aspects that went into the rollercoaster’s design. Additionally, UC faculty led several thirty-minute engineering activities that focused on topics like water filtration and piping; construction; transportation and structural engineering; and communication and teamwork.

students stack a Jenga tower.

Students construct towers using Jenga blocks to withstand earthquake simulations.

“Engineering is about learning from different processes and failures and always constantly improving,” said Cromwell. “These activities and events gave students the opportunity to establish creativity and get excited about engineering.”

One of the biggest goals of the event was to promote engineering as an exciting field for younger audiences. The math or science aspect of engineering can easily intimidate younger students, explained Cromwell, so part of the day was discussing how skills like creative thinking and problem solving also make successful engineers.

Because of the partnership and collaboration between UC, ASCE and several industry sponsors, "Dream Big" was a huge success. Four hundred fifty kids walked away inspired and eager to learn more – years from now, thanks to this early exposure, these same kids could drive the future of engineering.

Additional sponsors for UC’s “Dream Big” event included Turner Construction, Terracon, Messer Construction, Baker Concrete, Federal Equipment, American Concrete Institute and the American Society of Highway Engineers.