UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students from the York County School of Technology, a high school that offers both academic and technical training, visited Penn State on Nov. 21 to engage with the many opportunities the University can offer.
Reuben Kraft, associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, spearheaded the trip that brought 17 students and three York Tech teachers to a multitude of research labs and iconic Penn State landmarks.
Kraft became involved with the school through his research, funded by his National Science Foundation CAREER award, where he seeks to understand the impacts of traumatic brain injuries through computational modeling, particularly those suffered by young athletes.
“Over the last few months we have been working very closely with the sports medicine program (at York Tech) to collect data from their athletes,” he said. “We are now extending the program in the winter to work with their precision machining program to make new devices that will help collect data.”
The natural collaboration inspired him to create a deeper connection with the students, who were able to learn more about not only how Kraft conducts his research, but many others in the University as well. The daylong trip included explorations of the Biomechanics and Imaging Lab, Magneto-Active Composites and Structures Lab, and the Millennium Science Complex. During their outing, the students also visited Penn State Law at University Park and the Center for Innovative Materials Processing 3D.
Jody Kessinger, a biology teacher and career program coordinator at York Tech, said the trip allowed the high school students to absorb knowledge from the professors and their graduate students.
“This is nice for the students to see so many different aspects of what goes into science,” she said. “The things they study in the classroom all had to be researched at some point, so this really helps put things in perspective.”
The students also were encouraged to explore the potential engineering disciplines they could specialize in during college and beyond.
“One of the students said this was actually her first ever college visit,” Kessigner said. “It will be interesting to see what they do with this experience.”
After the day was done, the organizers considered it a huge success.
“I had multiple students asking how they could get more involved (in research),” Kraft said. “And, of course, everyone loved our stop at the Creamery!”
With more knowledge about different pathways a student can take in higher education, Kraft is optimistic that the experience was encouraging for the students.
“I hope that this exposure showed them that there are a lot of different opportunities, not just in engineering but in law and policy, and medicine, too,” he said. “I also hope that they realized how much we want them to be a part of our community.”