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Posted 10/5/2016

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DETROIT- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the West Point Society of Michigan, last week, in support of their annual Leadership, Ethics and Diversity in STEM conference at Marygrove College.

District engineers volunteered their time to instruct approximately 30, seventh graders on basic structural engineering concepts, then held a competitive KNEX bridge building competition to test what the students had learned.

The engineers tasked the students to break into teams and build the strongest but lightest bridge out of KNEX in 45 minutes. The students brainstormed and worked quickly as time rapid passed. By the time the buzzer rang, each group had different designs to be tested.

"The students were brilliant and seemed to grasp the basic bridge building concepts we taught them quickly," said Alec Higgins, engineer.

Each bridge was weighed and tested as more and more weight was placed on them. Groups cheered and others sighed as some bridges snapped while a few held strong for a nail bitter finish.

The winning bridge building team was awarded prizes but all the students and engineers in attendance were rewarded. These types of events are crucial in inspiring and motiving our youth.

"It's important for us to promote an interest in STEM among young people, as we will be relying on them to be the leaders of the future" said Higgins. "Our Nation needs individuals who are pushing the boundaries of STEM fields and providing the innovation and technical expertise that America needs to stay competitive in today's global economy."

Nominated 6th through 12th grade students with outstanding academics were invited to attend the conference from Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Charter Schools and surrounding school systems.

The purpose of the LEADs in STEM events is to encourage leadership, ethics, and STEM to students, grades 6-12, in communities that may not be exposed to those concepts on a regular basis.

To learn more about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, visit: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/home.aspx