USC Aiken Helps Future Engineers Chase their Big Dreams

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AIKEN, SC (01/24/2018) Members of the University of South Carolina Aiken faculty teamed up with Bechtel Corporation to introduce area students to the exciting world of engineering, math, and science.

Through an engaging feature-length movie, presented free by Bechtel at the Regal Cinema located at the Aiken Mall, students of all ages learned how the field of engineering is helping solve problems and improve quality of life in communities around the world.

"The objective was to make K-12 students aware of possible STEM careers and to provide inspiration that they can impact the world and people's lives through their careers," said Dr. Jerry Prendergast, assistant professor of engineering at USC Aiken.

The movie DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World included several real-world examples. An engineer originally from Turkey is working in Seattle to build structures that better withstand earthquakes. Another young engineer led an effort in Haiti to build a footbridge over a river so children could safely walk across to their local school.

Members of Bechtel Corporation also attended the event.

"Dream Big shows the hidden world behind the most exciting inventions and structures across the world. It is not only a journey through engineering's greatest wonders but also a tale of human grit, aspiration, compassion, and the triumph of human ingenuity over life's greatest challenges," said Lexi Corral of Bechtel.

Students who watched the movie also learned of professionals with diverse backgrounds in their own community who are engaged in successful STEM careers.

Before and after the movie, Prendergast engaged the students who attended, learning more about their own dreams and how he - and USC Aiken - may help guide them, even at very young ages.

"USC Aiken's participation was important to provide timely awareness that a path to STEM careers was readily available here in the local community through the science, engineering and math programs here at USC Aiken," he said.

The American Society of Civil Engineers and Bechtel Corporation worked together to produce DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World. The movie debuted at the Smithsonian February 2017 in IMAX 3D. It is still airing in the iconic museum in Washington.

According to the Smithsonian's website, "DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World is a giant screen film that will transform how we think about engineering. From the world's tallest buildings to underwater robots and a solar car race across Australia, DREAM BIG celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small, and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. With its inspiring stories of human grit and aspiration, and extraordinary visuals for the world's largest screens, DREAM BIG reveals the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create better lives for people and a more sustainable future for us all."

Bechtel plans to make the movie available on DVD in the near future for educational purposes in area schools. Prendergast, a member of the USC Aiken engineering faculty, says he looks forward to getting a copy to use in his introductory engineering course.

USC Aiken now offers a four-year bachelor's degree in industrial process engineering.