SEI students represent Texas A&M Engineering at Houston Hispanic Forum

The Space Engineering Institute (SEI) organized four sessions on "The World of Engineering" at the 26th Annual Career and Education Day sponsored by the Houston Hispanic Forum at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston Jan. 9.Junior mechanical engineering major Scott Hansen with kids at the Houston Hispanic ForumThe annual event is designed to educate students in grades six through 12 and their parents on career choices, college preparation and financial aid. According to Donna Littleton, executive director for the event, an estimated 13,000 students, parents and teachers attended the event this year.This year, SEI collaborated with Shell Oil Corp. to organize four Panel Sessions on the world of engineering that were accompanied with hands on activities. In each session, the panel gave a short overview of engineering and its importance in meeting today's challenges in the world along with personal stories of why they chose engineering.The hands-on activity involved organizing students in teams of 10 that competed in a bridge design. Each team was asked to build a bridge with Knex components based on specific design requirements. The bridges were tested at the end of the session for maximum supported load and the winning team in each session received cool glasses for each member donated from Shell Oil. While the students worked on the hands-on activity, panel participants walked around and answered questions from students and parents about college, specific engineering majors and transferring to Texas A&M, and more.The Texas A&M Engineering group included SEI students Scott Hansen, Bonnie Stern and Sarah Thiele, all junior mechanical engineering majors; Mindy Watts, a freshman mechanical engineering major; and Leanne Kristen, a freshman nuclear engineering major. Other engineering students from Texas A&M included Danielle Fitch, a senior aerospace engineering major; Alex Pankonien, aerospace engineering graduate student; and Mitchell Jeffris, electrical engineering graduate student. SEI Director Magda Lagoudas and Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, accompanied the students.The Shell Oil group included Mary Grunewaldt, Adrianna Paiva, Wilmer Gavina, Kevin Fox, Luis Lugo and Claudia Tello. Scott Hansen and the SEI team were responsible for organizing the hands-on activities, testing procedure and awardsBesides the "World of Engineering" sessions, the team represented the Dwight Look College of Engineering with a booth. Jackie Perez, undergraduate advisor for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was in charge of the college's booth.The Space Engineering Institute is a program that engages undergraduate engineering students beginning in the freshman year in interdisciplinary and mutlilevel team projects that run multiple semesters. Each team is composed of six to eight undergraduates, a graduate student mentor who acts as their project manager, a faculty mentor, and a NASA or industry sponsor.The program has been focused on NASA and space exploration projects, and due to its recognized success, has since expanded to other areas like nuclear engineering. The program main focus is to enhance the academic education of our undergraduates with valuable engineering experiences through sponsored projects.SEI would like to thank the Engineering Student Services and Academic Programs (ESSAP) Office at Texas A&M for sponsoring this event. For more information on the TEES Space Engineering Institute, please visit For more information about the HHF or Career and Education Day, visit by Magda Lagoudas,