Discovery Place Science launches ‘Year of the Engineer’ to inspire local youth to seek future STEM careers

Discovery Place Science

Museum commits to partnering with 250 engineers to provide 2,500 experiences to expose 250,000 guests to the wonders of engineering

CHARLOTTE – On Saturday, August 26 Discovery Place will launch the Year of the Engineer, a multi-faceted initiative spanning the 2017-2018 school year celebrating the creativity and inventiveness of engineers.

Data from U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics says that the field of engineering is expected to grow as much as 10 percent in the coming decade. However, studies also show that most graduating high school students in North Carolina are not adequately equipped to meet entry-level job requirements in the skilled trade, the technology sector, or advanced manufacturing entities.

As a nationally acclaimed science center, Discovery Place Science shares a responsibility to address our region’s STEM education gap and contribute to the building of a homegrown qualified workforce for STEM careers.

Presented by Lead Partner Albemarle Foundation, the Year of the Engineer aims to shine a light on STEM innovation and empower local youth to become the problem solvers of the future.

“The future success of the North Carolina economy is dependent on STEM careers, and Discovery Place is committed to developing a talented workforce by connecting children and youth with their futures,” said Catherine Horne, president and CEO of Discovery Place. “Through hands-on learning experiences, the Year of the Engineer will offer our youth opportunities to engage in real-world engineering challenges and meet STEM leaders of our community with the hope that we will inspire a new generation of engineers and problem-solvers.”

Throughout the Year of the Engineer, Discovery Place has committed to partnering with 250 engineers to provide 2,500 experiences to expose 250,000 guests to the wonders of engineering.

To achieve this goal by June 2018, Discovery Place Science will host signature events throughout the year, and commit to special engineering weekends that will take place on the first, second and third Saturday of each month, starting September 2, 2017:

  • First Saturday – Engineer in Residence Workshops: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. - Join a volunteer engineer in Thinker Space to take on an engineering design challenge in a 60-minute hands-on, free workshop. Workshops will take place at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month. Advance registration recommended. Dates: Sept. 2, Oct. 7, Nov. 4., Dec. 2, Jan. 6, Feb. 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2
  •  Second Saturday – Engineering Takeovers: All Day - Visit with local engineers, professional organizations and corporations in this monthly Museum-wide takeover. These special engineer guests will provide industry- specific experiences while also showcasing the work being done in the Carolinas. All activities on takeover days will be included with Museum admission. Dates: Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Dec. 9, Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, May 12          
  • Third Saturday – Think It Up Challenge: 9:00 a.m. – noon - Collaborate on a large-scale, unique design challenge that will get visitors engaged in real-world engineering topics. From aerospace to mechanical engineering, projects will focus on different types of engineering throughout the year. All Think It Up Challenges are included with Museum admission and will take place on Level 3 in the new Think It Up exhibition from 9:00a.m. - noon. Dates: Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 17, April 21, May 19

In addition to the monthly programs, Discovery Place Science will also host signature events and community programs throughout the year such as the return of the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire and the Charlotte Hackathon, host Pop-Up Make initiatives in underserved neighborhoods, and debut a new engineering-focused exhibition this fall, Da Vinci’s Machines.

“When you think of engineering, many people think about constructing bridges and skyscrapers or mathematicians crunching difficult numbers all day, but in reality, engineers are creative problem solvers. Our hope is that the Year of the Engineer will show the imaginative side of engineering by offering interactive, messy and creative opportunities that engage guests with important engineering skills that are also fun,” said Joanie Philipp, Chief Operating Officer of Discovery Place.

To kick off the year, on Saturday, August 26 Discovery Place Science is hosting an Opening Day Celebration, which will feature the public debut of two new interactive spaces, Thinker Space and Think It Up, and the premier of the new engineering IMAX® film, Dream Big: Engineering Our World:

  • From the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots and a solar car race across Australia, Dream Big celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. With its inspiring stories of human grit and aspiration, and extraordinary visuals for the world’s largest screens, Dream Big reveals the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create better lives for people and a more sustainable future for us all.
  • Thinker Space is an interactive maker lab that encourages guests to take risks and experiment with new tools and materials to create something from scratch. Guests can follow along with facilitated building prompts or make their own design using tools (from simple hand saws to advanced 3D printers) and resources (metal, wood, wires, microchips, etc.) to hand-craft unique creations.
  • Think It Up is a re-imagination of the popular Discovery Place Science exhibition of the same name formerly located on Level 2 of the Museum. New and updated exhibits will allow guests to experiment, collaborate and learn-by-doing through fabrication stations and interactive experiences that provide visitors with opportunities to engage with both DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIT (do-it-together) projects.

The Year of the Engineer runs Saturday, August 26, 2017 – Saturday, June 9, 2018. All activities are included with Museum admission, except for Dream Big in IMAX which is only $5 when purchased with Museum admission. Admission to Discovery Place Science is $17 for adults (14-59); $13 for children (2-13); $15 for seniors (60+); and free for Discovery Place Science Members and children younger than 2, plus tax. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Children age 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while in the Museum.  Guests can purchase tickets online at science.discoveryplace.org, via phone at 704.372.6261 x300 or in person.

Lead support for Year of the Engineer comes from Albemarle Foundation, Ingersoll Rand, Duke Energy, Bank of America, and Lowe’s. Additional program support is provided by Rodgers Builders, Balfour Beatty, Little, Shurtape, Modern Fabric, and Two Men and a Truck.

About Discovery Place Science

One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place Science provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that engage people in the active exploration of science, technology and nature. The Museum brings relevant, contemporary science to life through groundbreaking exhibitions, interactive educational programming and hands-on activities.

Discovery Place Science is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum’s parking deck – the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex – at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place, call 704.372.6261, visit discoveryplace.org or connect with Discovery Place Science on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Discovery Place

Discovery Place is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides STEM education to the Carolinas through four distinct museum experiences at Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Kids, interactive educational programming, professional development training and community outreach initiatives. In 2017, Discovery Place was named as a finalist for the National Medal by the Institute for Museum and Library Science.

Discovery Place is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.

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