WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - You can be an engineer. That's the message New York Air Brake was trying to show local students with a field trip to their facility Tuesday.
Playing with candy and making paper planes might be typical high-schooler pastimes, but New York Air Brake is showing students how these things are all a part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, careers.
The facility invited students from the area to tour the labs and shops and learn what the different kinds of engineers there do.
"Many students don't really understand what engineers actually do. They see teachers, they see nurses, but they don't see engineers and what they do, so having the opportunity to come and see and talk to engineers is really important," said Brigitte Gillette, Copenhagen Central School guidance counselor.
"And another big thing that the Air Brake has by bringing student in is they get to see that engineering is happening right here locally, and they don't have to go to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. to get a really good job," said Erin Patterson, NYAB systems test engineer.
Paper airplanes turned into design and testing projects. M&Ms turned into quality testing and statistics.
"It showed me more of the technicalities of working here, so I think it helped understanding the full picture of it," said Tanner Young, Lyme Central School student.
Although students did learn engineering skills, organizers say the biggest thing they hope kids take away from this experience is inspiration.
“It might be like a light bulb went off. They might really like mathematics and they never thought of engineering or they never thought this might be something they’d like to do and hopefully it’ll inspire them to follow a career in that,” said Jessica Frerichs, NYAB project manager.
According to the Education Commission of the States, STEM careers are expected to grow by 13 percent in the next 7 years.