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Area Students Study a Day in the Life of UTSI Engineers

It’s always nice to be able to sample something before making a commitment; this is the theory behind test drives, Saturday samples at the grocery store, even dating. Three savvy high school students applied this theory to their future career by attending the University of Tennessee Space Institute on Wednesday to see for themselves what a day in the life of a working engineer really looks like.

As part of the Engineer for a Day program, Franklin County High School student David Feller, Tullahoma High School student Tatiana Patsimas and, from Smyrna High School, student Michael Shannon and teacher Chris Garner toured UTSI’s research facilities with Research Associates Peter Sherrouse and Joel Davenport.

At UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications (CLA), Researchers Lino Costa and Shaun Li explained some of their current research projects to the curious students. Costa presented a demonstration of how to make a surface coating with lasers and a thin surface powder bed to prevent abrasion, corrosion and wear for materials exposed to harsh environments. Li showed the students how he uses lasers to cut microchannels to be used in a nanotechnology project for single molecule detection. Students also got a sneak peak of CLA’s new clean room, still under construction.

Sherrouse and Davenport then walked students through demonstrations of a wind tunnel and water tunnel and how they are used to study problems of aerodynamics. Their final destination was the Spin Lab where students got to see carbon fiber and learn about the ongoing project to lower the cost of carbon fiber production so that it could be used to build stronger and lighter vehicles, planes, and more.

The photos above show UTSI research engineers along with area high school students during the recent Engineer For A Day event. At top left, Shaun Li explains a laser process. Next, Franklin County High School student David Feller, and Tullahoma High’s Tatiana Patsimas, (at left), and teacher Chris Garner and student Michael Shannon from Smyrna High School, (at right), listen as UTSI Engineer Peter Sherrouse, (center) explains about UTSI’s new clean room, now nearing completion. In the next frame, UTSI Research Associate Joel Davenport displays a sample of carbon fiber and discusses current carbon fiber work going on at UTSI. At bottom right, Miss Patsimas feels the problem with wing oscillations in a test wind tunnel. Center frame shows the tiny holes that Li cut with a laser, while students looked on; the part is an example of what is used in nanotechnology projects to detect single molecules. At bottom, you can see a water tunnel project studying aerodynamics of airplane wings. Finally, at bottom left, the group walks back to the bus.