National Engineers Week Hits the Books


Apr 05, 2010

Engineers from Phoenix Contact in Pennsylvania and Michigan shared their enthusiasm for science with local students during National Engineers Week, Feb. 14-20, an annual event that promotes engineering careers to young people and honors engineers' contributions to society.

Engineers from Phoenix Contact's U.S. headquarters, just outside Harrisburg, Pa., worked with students at the nearby Middletown Area Middle School. Each day, a team of engineers taught sixth-grade science class, incorporating a combination of theory and hands-on activities into the lesson. Students learned about static electricity with a demonstration of a Van de Graaff generator, built an electric motor, raced cookie tins to see how the distribution of mass around an axis affects the speed of an object and built a catapult to demonstrate momentum and trajectory. This was the third year that the company worked with the school for Engineers Week (

Phoenix Contact's automation sales and software development office in Ann Arbor, Mich., also visited a local school. The Ann Arbor team worked with the seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Ann Arbor Open School. Students learned about the history of manufacturing and began work on the "mini-factory" project, a desktop model of a production line that includes a conveyor and some simple robots.

"Over the past few years, our engineers in Harrisburg have had a lot of fun working with local students," said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA ( "These hands-on demonstrations not only show how math and science can be fun, but also how engineering impacts all of our lives on a daily basis."

In addition to the school activities, Phoenix Contact honored its practicing engineers with lunches in both Middletown and Ann Arbor.

Shooting Bubbles
A Middletown Area sixth-grader in Pennsylvania shoots bubbles
at a Van de Graaff generator that repels them.
Phoenix Contact