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Ron Koepp, a Tinker materiels engineer, shows students a metal bolt stretched to its limit as an example of tensile and failure tests he performs in the Structural Integrity Lab of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center. Students toured labs Feb. 24 during the annual Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers Engineer for a Day program. Students from left are; Marshall Hartley, Harrah High School junior; Braden Hobaugh, Harrah senior; and A.J. Race, Mustang High School ninth-grader. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)
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Engineering the future

Posted 3/3/2011   Updated 3/3/2011 Email story   Print story


by Nicole Turner
Tinker Public Affairs

3/3/2011 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- With a work force of nearly 1,300 scientists and engineers, it's no wonder why the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Engineering & Technical Management Directorate participated in the nationally-recognized Engineers Week, Feb. 20-26.

On Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., several metro-area high school students involved in Engineers Week toured the engineering facilities in Bldg. 3001. These students were hand-selected by the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers to be an "Engineer For a Day."

Engineers Week is a specific week each year designated to support high school students interested in engineering and related sciences. Participating companies and entities host these students for a day, allowing them a first-hand account of the professional engineering industry. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Engineers Week. The slogan is "Reach. Respect. Recognize."

"It (Engineers Week) just gives them an overall view of what Tinker is," said Cynthia Kennedy, K-12 Science and Engineering Outreach coordinator, Workforce Development Branch in the OC-ALC/EN.

Throughout the day, participating students were partnered with a professional mentor from the OC-ALC Engineering & Technical Management Directorate. They also took a tram tour of Bldg. 3001 to see nearly every aspect of engines and KC-135 aircraft depot-level maintenance.

While on base the students had the opportunity to see and visit many laboratories. These included the Quality Verification Control lab where they learned how specific aircraft part dimensions are verified; the Chemistry lab where engine oil, lubricants and fuels are tested; the Materials lab where parts from mishaps and crash sites are investigated; the Weapons Systems lab where aircraft parts are tested to failure and the Non-Destruction Inspection lab where low voltage devices are used to find cracks on engine and aircraft structures.

Brandi Rehagen, a senior from Harrah High School, attended Engineer For a Day for the second straight year. She said she gets excited about coming to Tinker because it gives her a new engineering perspective and it reiterates to her how much she wants to be a professional engineer herself.

"I love science and math. I love the challenge," she said. "This has given me a lot more information on what I want to do. It's made me even more interested in engineering."

Once she graduates from high school, Ms. Rehagen plans to attend college at Oklahoma State University and major in an engineering field.

David Robertson, director of the Engineering & Technical Management Directorate for the OC-ALC, had the opportunity to act as a mentor to the students. He said their response to the day's activities was very positive.

"It was good to see kids at that age reaching out and trying to figure out what they want to do," Mr. Robertson said. "I think they got a feel for not only what Tinker has to offer but also what a scientist or engineer does on a daily basis."

Engineer for a Day is part of an overall outreach program that also allows OC-ALC/EN to foster important relationships with the local community and academia.

"The surrounding communities are the people who work here, so we want to be open and transparent and let them know what type of employment opportunities we have to offer," Mr. Robertson said.

The students ended their evening by gathering with peers and other local Engineers Week participants for a joint banquet. It was held at the Gaylord Center on the Oklahoma Christian University campus in Edmond.

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