Careers in Engineering at Launch and WOP's Growth
In the last blog article, we talked about the beginning of Launch, Winston Opportunity Project’s 2021 project, an extension of Career Club which started last year in 2020. This week I will be writing about about Launch’s second meeting, WOP’s expansion, and other programs with similar goals to the of the Winston Opportunity Project.
Our second Launch Meeting was focused on aeronautics, space exploration, and careers in engineering. To provide students at this meeting with exposure to the topic in a real-world context, Winston Opportunity set up a meeting with guest speaker and NASA director Travis Millner. Mr. Millner took us through a new NASA mission by the name of Artimus, a sequel to the famous Apollo exploration in the 1960s. Afterwards, participants built DIY rockets in teams and competed for the rocket that could fly the farthest. Utilizing the collaboration, problem solving, and creativity skills that are crucial in engineering careers, students used only balloons, air pumps, paper towel rolls, and wooden clips, participants would create a rocket using the engineering design method.
In this activity, students were divided into teams and competed against each other to determine who could build a rocket that travels the fastest and farthest. They were also given freedom to design their rocket in any way they see fit - pushing students to employ their creativity skills. While typical learning environments can suppress these important qualities and abilities through non-interactive learning such as textbooks, the Winston Opportunity Project encourages participants in Launch to think critically and solve problems.
This activity also encouraged competition between groups, which not only made the activity fun and engaging but also fostered the development of a sense of self efficacy among students. In this activity, competition pushed students to work harder and find innovative solutions to the design problem that they faced - a skill that is important in the field of engineering.
Aside from Launch, the Winston Opportunity has also seen incredible growth over the past few months, at the start of Career Club, the 3 founding members were the only leaders involved at the time. Now, not 10 months after, WOP has doubled its number of leaders and roles within the program. The goal of this growth process was to bring together students from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, schools, and interests in order to attempt to represent all students in Forsyth County. This growth has also enabled the expansion of our existing mentorship program, providing the organization with a larger base of volunteer mentors and allowing us to serve more students. As we have discussed in previous articles, the benefits of mentorship are pronounced: youth with mentors are 55% less likely to skip school, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, 90% interested in becoming a mentor themselves, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions (Mentoring Impact). Importantly, effective mentorship encourages mentees to take roles in their community just as their mentors did for them with the Winston Opportunity Project - a “passing down of the torch”, as John F. Kennedy put it.
The progress of Launch and the growth of this organization continue to highlight the progress we have made towards pursuing our mission to its fullest extent. With more students in our programs and more students in leadership positions on our board, the Winston Opportunity Project is better able to provide the community of students it serves with opportunities to learn and grow themselves.