Before they arrive at Georgia Tech, high school students interested in STEM are often introduced to mechanical or computer engineering through afterschool activities like robotics and coding classes. Industrial engineering (IE), on the other hand, is known as a “discovery major.” This is largely because IE’s problem-solving applications are so varied that, as a field, it can be a challenge to define.
Enter Mission Possible, a week-long summer camp designed to familiarize high school students with IE. Through computer games involving disaster preparedness and supply chains, as well as presentations on “magic” math tricks, sports analytics, and how artificial intelligence recognizes human faces, 30-plus students received a crash course in the many ways IE is applicable to today’s challenges. In addition, through an activity that involves assembling LEGO structures, the students learned soft skills such as teamwork and communication. Toward the end of the week, the students toured Bobby Dodd Stadium, where they saw Grant Field and learned about some of the logistics of operating an NCAA Division I athletic department.
“Industrial engineers can successfully fill so many roles in the workplace that we can have a hard time defining ourselves,” explained Jon Lowe, an academic professional in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) who oversaw the Mission Possible activities. “In contrast, when someone says ‘civil engineering,’ for example, everyone knows they build bridges and roads. The goal of Mission Possible is to show the students that there’s so much industrial engineers can do.”
Based on student feedback, this seventh iteration of Mission Possible — it was offered for the first time in 2012 — was a success.“Learning the many applications of industrial engineering has piqued my interest, and I can definitely see myself doing something related to this as a future career,” said one participant.
The ISyE academic team plans to expand its educational outreach beyond the single summer offeing of Mission Possible. “The success of ISyE’s Mission Possible has inspired the outreach team to develop mini Mission Possible events that will take place during the school year, with the goal of introducing ISyE to students who may not have the chance to attend the summer program,” said Tuba Ketenci, an academic professional who directs ISyE’s K-12 outreach.
To learn more about Mission Possible and ISyE’s K-12 outreach, visit isye.gatech.edu/k-12.
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering