Outreach program highlights STEM at Florida Poly

Jan 23, 2020
Indira Sukhraj with young students
Indira Sukhraj, associate director of educational outreach at Florida Polytechnic University, shows students from Stewart Middle Magnet School how to use a 3D printing pen at the University’s first Outreach to the Future event.

Middle and high school students with an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have a new way to get a close-up look at what Florida Polytechnic University has to offer and how the University can help them meet their career goals.

Outreach to the Future is a new program that welcomes middle and high schools to campus. The students receive a campus tour, learn about career opportunities, and experience hands-on activities related to their discipline of choice.

“We want them to understand a little more about what STEM is and the applications for it,” said Indira Sukhraj, associate director of educational outreach at Florida Poly. “These students are seeing all the different facets of STEM they’ll need to be successful if they decide to pursue a STEM career.”

Nearly 50 students from Stewart Middle Magnet School in Hillsborough County participated in the first Outreach to the Future event on Jan. 22. Sukhraj said many other schools are slated to participate in the free program on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the spring semester.

“I think this is a great experience to learn about how the college works and the different things it has,” said Alex Wynn, a seventh grader at Stewart Middle Magnet School.

Wynn said he wants to be an automotive engineer or a game designer when he is older. He and his classmates learned about the 3D printing process and were given the opportunity to work with 3D printing pens.

Christina Williams, Advancement Via Educational Determination (AVID) coordinator at the middle school, said the program offered a good opportunity for students to widen their view of the possibilities available to them.

“I am hoping this will set a fire under them as to what is possible in mechanical engineering,” she said. The school asked Florida Poly to focus on that discipline during the visit.

Sukhraj said the program is intended to do exactly that.

“The students visit our campus get to interact with Florida Poly students rather than peeking in at them at a classroom,” Sukhraj said. “They get to ask them questions about what it’s like to be a student here and they get to see our students taking a leadership role.”

In addition to the education assistants taking part in the new outreach program, Sukhraj said student organizations and volunteers also will be taking an active role in upcoming Outreach to the Future events. Faculty and staff are volunteering their time and expertise as well to further enrich the experience.

Schools interested in participating in Outreach to the Future can submit a request via the program website. Students, faculty and staff interested in getting involved can click here for more information.

Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications