Students Get Head Start on Engineering Training

What did you want to be growing up? Did you have any help? Dozens of high schoolers with their hearts set on engineering careers had a great opportunity this week at the second annual Savannah Engineering Academy.

Organizers tell us it used to be you had to go to Atlanta or out of state for an engineering degree. But in the last few years, training has been available in Savannah. And for the last two years, you can get an early start.

Students at the academy got hands-on lessons in the many aspects of their future careers. "I think if they have a specific interest now, this program exposes them to the various tracks that they can pursue in school and as a career later on so that they have a better idea without going into engineering blind," said Dana Hornkohl, himself an engineer with Chatham County.

He brought his experience in environmental engineering to help students with an today's activity, in which students created filters to turn contaminated, green sludge into something you might actually want to drink.

But it's been a different activity every day of the weeklong academy.

"Actually at the beginning of the week, I was thinking about becoming a civil engineer," said Rashad Armstrong of Savannah High. "But as the week progressed, there was a lot of different speakers and it started to sway. So now I'm thinking about more electrical or mechanical engineering."

"I learned a lot of different stuff and different fields of it that I never would have figured would have been in there," said Stephanie Vine of St. Andrew's School. What was the most surprising? "Probably bio engineering."

It's been a week of practical lessons in the science of problem-solving.

"Pretty much, we were given a problem and we were told to solve it with the resources that we had, so obviously there's more than one way to do it," said Rashad.

Organizers say there's demand for the skills. "Jobs here locally and they can also train here locally," according to Hornkohl.

And they can put their talent to work here at home. Students we spoke with said it was a well-spent week of summer vacation.

For interested students next year, applications will be made available at high schools in Chatham, Effingham, Liberty and Bryan Counties.

Reported by: Charles Gray,