Our Construction Management Team for the Ohio Canal Interceptor Tunnel (OCIT) has had the good fortune of interacting with Akron’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in the workplace, classrooms, and field trips. Through these interactions I have consistently seen youth who are motivated and excited to learn more about the OCIT and how it will make a difference for the future of Akron and for our environment. After much reflection, I have found myself inspired with the students’ deep and intent gaze as their inquisitive minds ask seemingly never-ending questions about the largest infrastructure project in Akron’s history. I have truly been struck by their keen desire to be connected with a purpose; that is, these students express a sincere and meaningful interest to be connected with an important cause and mission.
This is where the All-Akron Student Engineering Program (AASEP) comes in – providing an incredible opportunity for Akron High School students to feel connected to a purpose. Through work shadowing, our AASEP students are exposed to projects that will ultimately protect public health and maintain water quality with the OCIT and Combined Sewer Storage Basins. Students also worked on Akron’s Ronald McDonald House, a place that helps families live locally to access specialized medical treatment. The OCIT, Combined Sewer Storage Basins and Ronald McDonald House are just a few examples – examples of projects where I saw Akron High School students interested in learning more, with a keen desire to understand how they could help make a difference.
The AASEP opened my eyes to see a generation that wants to be connected with a purpose. While that purpose may take many forms, it is clear that we have a generation that is ready to creatively define a better world. Patanjali said “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” The AASEP provides hands-on opportunities for Akron’s High School students to see inspiration of such a great purpose, to see how their STEM career could ultimately help them make a real difference in Akron and our environment for generations to come.
By: Rob Frutchey