Teamwork: Students from Miami-area middle and high schools display their industrial engineering prowess, coming up with a process to make as many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as possible in a 20-minute period.
Rondell Pittman, an 11-year-old at Downtown Miami Charter School, knows exactly what he wants to be after completing a recent field trip to the University of Miami. “An engineer,” he said confidently. “I would know how to fix anything and design whatever I want, even my dream car.”
Pittman was one of about 20 youngsters from Miami-area middle and high schools who spent Friday on the UM campus learning about different engineering disciplines. Their visit, organized and hosted by the UM chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), included a tour of the laboratory facilities at the College of Engineering, presentations, and activities that tested their problem-solving skills.
“The earlier we can expose kids, especially those from underrepresented groups, to engineering, the more likely it is they’ll enter the field,” said Amanda Adams, an industrial engineering major and president of UM’s NSBE chapter. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do this event.”
Adams captivated her young audience during the lecture phase of the event, telling them how industrial engineers have helped fast food restaurants save millions of dollars by showing them how to prepare sandwiches faster and more efficiently.
“There’s a science to how fast people prepare food,” Adams told them. “Industrial engineers pride themselves on being efficient and effective. They’ve helped companies like Burger King and Starbucks.”
The young students then put their industrial engineering skills to the test, competing in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making contest that required them to make as many of the treats as possible in 20 minutes.
The students, who were divided into groups of three, managed to make more than 100 PB&J sandwiches, all of which were donated that same day to a local homeless shelter.
Sixteen-year-old Deja Lundy, a student at Booker T. Washington High School, was particularly ecstatic about attending the special event.
“I wanted to be a beautician,” she said. “But now, maybe I could become an engineer and design my own smartphone.”