Sharing Our Experience and Passion with Future Engineers
Two INA staff members recently got to experience what it would be like to be back in high school again. Only this time, it was more fun since they were getting to mentor and advise four North Little Rock High School engineering students on their Capstone project.
When the students selected an interactive hologram as a visual aid for their project, their teacher realized they would need assistance from the software development community. So she reached out to INA’s General Manager, Bob Sanders, who was quick to recruit staff members to work with these students to accomplish their goal. INA staff, Corrie Moore and Brook Wallace, eagerly accepted the invitation to mentor and assist these future engineers.
Corrie and Brook began by visiting the high school and meeting with the students to get a better understanding of their vision. It was clear after this initial meeting that they could help them with their project. With great excitement they began working together by setting up an instant messaging group where everyone on the team could communicate and share ideas. Together they began exploring different ways to make their vision a reality.
As with any project, there is always a trial and error phase. There were stumbling blocks along the way, but it allowed the students to see that even experienced developers sometimes get stumped and have to go back to the drawing board. Overcoming the blocks helped the students understand that problems don’t equate to failure; it is how you respond to them that determines success.
Working with the students throughout the semester, the INA team saw progress in the students’ skill levels. Their teacher emailed to express her appreciation and said, “I think [one of the students] is pretty excited about the breakthrough he is seeing in the programming. He was stuck for a while, and I heard him scream with joy for the first time last week when he figured out something that was hindering him.” The Capstone project concluded with a project review event presented by the students that included a live demo. They discussed where they were with their project and what they planned to do next (collegiate level research, etc.).
In the end, Corrie said that she felt that they learned as much from the students as the students had learned from them. At INA, we look forward to more opportunities to share our passion by helping the next generation of engineers.