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McKeesport high schoolers learn about engineering concepts

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Westinghouse document control clerk Doug Weed congratulates McKeesport Area juniors Dalton Shaffer, left, and David Grudowski for being first to complete a Lego project during Friday's N-VISION workshop. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Westinghouse customer engineer Don Hackworth, standing, checks in with McKeesport Area students, seated from left, Greg Garner, Shawn Moldonado, Logan Khoury and Chris Wilson perform a blind-folded Lego construction project on Friday. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area senior Queen Francis directs classmate Casey Light through a blind-folded Lego project directed by Westinghouse Electric Co. staff on Friday. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

Westinghouse Electric Co. staff challenged McKeesport Area High School students to explore the concepts and careers of engineering through a Friday workshop.

A group of Westinghouse engineers and other staff presented the “N-VISION: Our Powerful Future” workshop to dozens of McKeesport Area sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing careers in engineering, math or science.

Students learned about career options, heard the basics of Nuclear Energy 101 and performed hands-on activities involving marble transport and Lego construction.

“It's a program that emphasizes the skills needed to be engineers and the many jobs in that field,” McKeesport Area college and career counselor Alice Saxon said of the fifth annual partnership with Westinghouse. “It's a great real-world connection for our students.”

Senior Rachel Duffy, who plans to study energy engineering at Penn State in the fall, attended the N-VISION workshop for the first time on Friday.

“It was a great day full of wonderful experiences with engineering,” she said. “There was a lot of valuable information presented.”

Westinghouse senior communications specialist Tracey Rapali said it's important for students to understand the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.

“We will most definitely need engineers in the future — all kinds of engineers in different fields,” Rapali said. “McKeesport students know that, and they're always one of our best groups. They ask the most meaningful questions and have a real understanding of what we present. They know their stuff.”

While the presentations gave students a clear picture of what the future holds for engineering jobs, document control clerk Doug Weed said the hands-on activities are even more helpful as students plan their careers.

“It's very difficult to predict the conditions under which you will work, and you can't predict if you will work well with your partner,” he said of students' tricky task to construct a Lego Jeep with one blindfolded builder and one instruction reader. “Sometimes doing the job well and quickly doesn't count, if you're doing the wrong job.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or