More than 40 United Technologies Corp. (UTC) employee volunteers served as judges in the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair, held Tuesday, March 14 to Saturday, March 18 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
Students from grades seven through 12 competed as individuals and teams within the Life or Physical Sciences fields exploring a spectrum of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) topics such as the biomechanics of joint replacement, water purification, food conservation, 3D printing, solar power, and the science of memory.
Every year, UTC volunteer judges award a selection of students with UTC Awards for excellence. Among them this year were seventh-grader Kavin Kathir of St. Bridget School in Cheshire who explored the design and durability of bioplastics, and eighth-graders AlYaman Zoghol and Ahmad Mohammed of Madina Academy in Windsor who teamed up to generate electricity by harnessing the ocean’s energy through a double-plated magnetic generator. High school junior Soeuk Jun Kim of The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville received a UTC Award for writing an algorithm to assess eigenvalues in building structures in a proactive effort to avoid damage over time, and senior Ethan Novak of Greenwich High School in Greenwich received one for his study on the use of low-temperature, organic solvents that decrease heat-waste.
Brad Guilani of Otis and chair of the UTC Awards Committee explained how UTC volunteer judges evaluate students’ work. “We aim to get them off their speed, look past the candidates’ presentation materials and ask probing questions about how their study can be applied in the workplace.”
Dr. Treese Hugener Campbell of United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), a long-time volunteer, stressed the importance of UTC employees taking the time to participate in STEM education outreach opportunities. “Anything that draws the student out of the classroom and the employee out of the lab is beneficial to both. We get to invest in the next generation of scientists, and they learn how their projects address challenges that align with that of our business units.”
UTC employee judges choose to give of their time for a variety of reasons. Ryan Williams of Pratt & Whitney started in graduate school at the University of Connecticut while earning his Master of Science in electrical engineering, and continued as he began his career. “Honestly, I volunteer at events like this on behalf of UTC because I love meeting students who blow me away with their intelligence. You can witness their discoveries taking shape.”
Stephen Arena of Pratt & Whitney’s Environmental Health & Safety team shared that his decision to join the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair as a volunteer judge was part fatherhood, part engineer. “I’ve always worked in science and technology fields, and I have three kids. Once I saw my colleagues participate, I jumped right in. The students’ enthusiasm is contagious; they are tomorrow’s scientists, and I think we’re in good hands.”
To learn more about employee volunteerism at UTC, visit www.NaturalLeader.com.