School of Engineering projects win at Big Brothers Big Sisters Discovery Festival

December 14, 2016 - By Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico School of Engineering won the "Best Real World Application of STEM" Award at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Discovery Festival on Nov. 18 in Albuquerque.

BBBS1The event drew more than 1,500 K-12 students from around New Mexico, said Stefi Weisburd, outreach and education manager in the School of Engineering. Three School of Engineering programs participated in the festival: the Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) Engineering Research Center, the Center for Water and the Environment, and the Nanoscience and Microsystems Engineering program (NSMS). 

The LESA center, along with graduate students and Weisburd, helped middle and high school students light LEDs and make LED artwork. They also demonstrated visible light communication by sending a song via laser beam to a solar cell connected to a speaker, and they gave out diffraction glasses so students could see what colors mix together to make white light.  

Blade Allen, a junior in mechanical engineering who works as the undergraduate outreach coordinator the Center for Water and the Environment, was one of the students who demonstrated the interactive augmented-reality sandbox that allows students to change topography to alter water runoff and stream flow. They also demonstrated how water pollution spreads through ground and into the aquifer.

In addition, K-12 students had the opportunity to play with nanoscience materials at the NSMS table at the event.

In addition to participating in the festival, Weisburd is one of the many UNM employees who serve as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters pilot Mentor 2.0 program at South Valley Academy, where over the past four years she has helped her "Little Sister" prepare for college. The program also includes students from Amy Biehl High School.