GRAND RAPIDS — Students in grades 6-12 in West Michigan, and their families, are invited to find out ‘What Is An Engineer’ in a special and friendly program designed to aid West Michigan’s growing need for more people with technical competence through a STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

‘What is an Engineer’ is the brainchild of a group of retired West Michigan alumni of Kettering University in Flint who have recruited West Michigan engineers and future engineers to assist them.

‘What Is An Engineer’ is an evening of demonstrations, information and fun for students who are in the 6-12th grades in Kent County public schools, West Michigan Catholic Schools, Christian high schools and homeschooled students.

The event will be Tuesday, April 10, from 6:30-9 p.m. on the second floor of Aquinas College’s Wege Center. Cost for the event is $5 per student. The event is a collaboration between Kettering University, Aquinas College and West Michigan Catholic Schools.

“There is a real shortage of qualified technical personnel in the West Michigan community and it will only get bigger due to the expanding opportunities for the businesses in our region,” said Kettering alumnus Armen Oumedian of Grand Rapids. “Business is picking up. Our event, ‘What is an Engineer,’ will give students and their families a chance to talk with West Michigan practicing engineers and local students in face-to-face discussions.”

The program will showcase four engineering fields: Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering.

Local business leaders Bob Roth of Roman Manufacturing, Nancy Ayres of Flexco and Herb Fitzon of Dematic will be present to share the values, opportunities and benefits of the engineering profession.

4Demonstrations during the evening will include:
* Bio-Medical: surgery on hot dogs to show how medicine and engineering are blending.
* A Megatronics display.
* A Physics display.
* An Industrial Engineering Controls display.
* A FIRST Robotics team demonstration showing design, construction and computer programming and a LEGO in Paradise Team.

The evening will be highlighted by a panel of the following current Kettering University engineering students – all from West Michigan.
* Justin DeKoekkoek of Rockford, a senior biomedical student at Kettering, will show off his basic surgery skills by stitching up a hot dog and inviting others to join him. DeKoekkoek graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School.
* Huong Chim of Kentwood, a senior Electrical Engineering student at Kettering, will talk about her interesting co-op job at Dematic Corp. and will help students explore the good job options that await them in Electrical Engineering. Chim graduated from East Kentwood High School.
* Samuel Gravelle of Grand Rapids, a senior at Kettering in Mechanical Engineering who was homeschooled, will discuss his co-op job at Bissell Homecare. “I advise West Michigan students to talk to their high school teachers and try to develop an attitude for learning. Kettering was so helpful in preparing me to be an engineer. I encourage others to look at Kettering and the many engineering possibilities that exist today.”
* Peter Thorwall of West Olive, who also was homeschooled, is a senior at Kettering in Mechanical Engineering. He will talk about his co-op job at Siemens. “Engineering is the key to opening up opportunities,” Thorwall said. “An engineering degree can take you anywhere in the world.”
* Luke March of Belding, who also was homeschooled and is a senior at Kettering in Engineering Physics, will discuss his co-op job at Bissell Homecare. “Engineering is cool,” he said. “Engineering is fun. You get to do useful things and make cool stuff. It is a rewarding job and one that helps you accomplish things.”

Door prizes will also be awarded, including a 160GB iPod, a remote control helicopter and t-shirts for all participants.

Space is limited. Send $5 per student to the Foundation for Catholic Secondary Education, Attention Michael Wolfston/What is an Engineer, 360 Division Ave, South, Grand Rapids, Mich. 49503.

More information is available on Facebook at


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