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Calculus Roundtable prides itself on keeping in step with the latest math and science innovations, and opening the doors for students to as many STEM fields as possible. This past year, we delved into the increasingly relevant Electrical Engineering industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of electrical engineers is projected to grow by 7% and provide 23,000 new jobs each year through 2030. Alongside one of our Instructional Coaches, College Fellow Armondo Lopez supported elementary and middle school students of Oakland, CA, in programming their own circuitboards and learning about how these are used in everything from airplanes to battery-operated toys.
Over the course of three sessions, different groups of students utilized the Arduino computer programs, a platform that uploads code to a physical circuitboard. Led by our team, they followed individualized, step-by-step instructions to connect wire to specific parts of the board and put the stored Arduino instructions into action. Students experimented with capacitors, resistors, buttons, and LED screens and bulbs, and built a circuit to perform various goals, such as flashing a specific pattern of colored lights. Armondo shared that while the students were a bit scattered at the beginning of their lessons, they quickly grew more focused, receptive and confident as they assembled and troubleshoot their circuitboards. "When their LEDs flashed the correct array of colors, I could see a sense of pride in the students," Armondo remarked.
With the growing trend towards inclusivity in STEM, programs like the Arduino sessions are invaluable introducing youth to vital career paths "such as household electrician or embedded systems engineer" that they may have never discovered otherwise. Like many STEM pathways, electrical engineering branches into the automotive, computer, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, and robotics industries. If one of our students isn't specifically interested in circuitboards, they may develop a passion for stage design and lighting, or dream of inventing a vehicle that runs on fuel more efficiently.
Like several of our existing programs, the Arduino sessions have the potential to be reformatted for greater levels of electrical engineering knowledge and skill. In the future, students may have access to a multi-tiered course where they build their own programming languages, set circuitboard goals, calculate voltage and current, and analyze and quantify the flow of electricity. Calculus Roundtable Executive Director and Founder, Jim Hollis, and Nina Demediuk, our Senior Program Manager, also plan to introduce programs that merge electrical engineering with the biomedical sciences, providing even more STEM industry experience to students. Some of these potential activities including constructing hand sanitizer dispensers, artifical/mechanical limb prototypes to better assess their own health. The possibilities are limitless.