Group of people watch as man adjusts microscope
Ken Morris, at microscope, leads teacher workshop

Pharmacy faculty members at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo spent part of their winter break encouraging K–12 teachers to introduce engineering concepts in their classes.

“Engineering plays an important role in many careers, including pharmaceutical manufacturing,” explained Ken Morris, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who led a workshop attended by 29 teachers from the Hilo-Laupahoehoe-Waiakea Complex on Hawaiʻi island.

The National Science Foundation–funded workshop provided tools that teachers need to inspire students to look into engineering careers. It was offered to educators who teach science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM disciplines.

The course combined classroom instruction with hands-on activities and laboratory exercises that focused on understanding engineering concepts and methods.

“This represents a huge opportunity to address many issues on the Big Island, from energy generation to the observatories, to roads and bridges.” Morris said.

“We hope this will provide a natural link to training students in engineering at the undergraduate level at UH Hilo and other UH campuses.”

New Jersey Institute of Technology Professor of Engineering Raj Davé served as instructor and advisor to the College of Pharmacy on engineering-specific content of the workshop. UH Hilo instructors included Mahavir Chougule, assistant professor in pharmaceutical sciences, and Mazen Hamad, assistant professor in chemistry.

The workshop was organized by Xinyan Wang, undergraduate engineering coordinator at UH Hilo, with Bess Jennings, one of three state Department of Education STEM resource teachers on the Big Island who attended the workshop.

“The workshop gave teachers a better understanding of the range of careers in engineering and how to interest their students in the subject,” Jennings said. “This is important because the discipline of engineering is a key aspect of the focus on revitalizing teaching and learning through STEM-based education.”

Officials plan to offer the workshop to all Big Island school complexes.

This article was adapted from the January 2012 issue of Ka Lono Hanakahi.