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Engineering Day to attract 1,200 local students

Engineering Day participants and robots
Students at the 2007 Engineering Day check out a remote controlled robot brought to campus by cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The School of Science and Engineering will harness the energy of more than 1,200 middle school and high school students interested in engineering when it hosts the sixth annual New Faces of Engineering Day on Feb. 20.

Michael Watts, a computer and technology education teacher at Highland Middle School, has attended every Engineering Day with his 7th- and 8th-grade students. He said his students leave the event every year talking about the interaction they had with local engineers. Some of the words he said he's heard his students use to describe Engineering Day are "enriching," "exciting" and "enthusiastic."

This year's event, which begins at 9 a.m. and will take place in the Elting Gym and the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Union Building, will be conducted under the theme of energy. The focal point of the day's lectures, workshops and kiosks will be different types of energy, including solar.

Steven Bogart, chairman of the Engineering Advisory Board, a group comprised of local engineering-based company employees that organized the event in conjunction with the School of Science and Engineering, said the day is designed to excite middle school and high school students about engineering, science and technology and to spur their interest in pursuing careers in these fields. "We're looking to motivate young students and get them thinking technically," said Bogart.

Watts said he sees such a change in his students every year. "This program helps them better understand what engineering is all about, which helps them decide whether it is a good career choice," he said. Throughout the day, students will visit trade show displays of state-of-the-art products designed by professional engineers from more than 40 high-tech companies based in the region. Many of these exhibits will enable the students to get hands-on experience with engineering activities.

Students will also hear from experts in the field. Engineering Day's keynote speaker, Wendy Arienzo, is vice president of manufacturing technologies at NXP Semiconductors in Fishkill. Arienzo is responsible for all aspects of manufacturing semiconductor integrated circuits and associated research and development activities. The semiconductors manufactured in the Fishkill facility are used by people all over the world in products ranging from mobile phones, digital televisions and television remotes, and "smart" credit cards that ensure security and authentication of information. Also in attendance will be Assemblymember Kevin Cahill '77 and College President Steven Poskanzer.

About 34 schools in the Hudson River Valley region are participating in this year's Engineering Day. One participating school, Samuel Gompers High School, will be traveling from the Bronx to take part in the day for the second time.

The schools with the most attendees are Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley with 120 students and Onteora Middle School with 150 students.

Other participating schools include Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, Bulkeley Middle School in Rhinebeck, Crispell Middle School in Pine Bush, Millbrook High School, New Paltz High School and Nyack Middle School.

For more information about the School of Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz, visit www.newpaltz.edu/sse.