Ara Philipossian, UA professor of chemical engineering, sees the health of the planet in the eyes of the school children he mentors. He and his team of graduate students teach Tucson, Arizona, middle-school students about how engineers and scientists make our planet a safer and cleaner place to live.
"I see myself in them," he said. "And I always remember that what got me to become an engineer started many decades ago with very similar mentorships."
A group of 18 students from Hermosa Montessori School's seventh- and eighth- grade science class recently visited Philipossian's lab and explored different ways of generating power. Hands-on activities included a power bike demonstration and a solar panel experiment.
Calliandra Stuffle, a graduate student working with Philipossian on chemical mechanical planarization, or CMP, sees the same enthusiasm in the students she felt about engineering and science as a child.
"This will pique their natural sense of scientific exploration and help them envision a future where they can regularly participate in science and engineering," she said.
Philipossian and his team hope that students come out of their programs having learned four things: science and engineering is fun, there are multiple ways to measure and report things, attention to detail rules, and experimental error is an integral part of measurement and analysis.
"Our goal is to expose students to a laboratory setting, inspire critical thinking about energy and the environment, and share the excitement of working in this field," said Philipossian.