Indiana State University Newsroom

High school students sample mechanical engineering technology

February 27, 2015

Dozens of high school students from Indiana and Illinois visited Indiana State University Friday to learn firsthand about opportunities in mechanical engineering technology.

As a service learning project, Indiana State students in the university's chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, developed, organized and produced a day of presentations by industry representatives and faculty and staff in the College of Technology. The prospective students also got to experience what it's like to work in a university technology lab.

"I hope the high school students take away an interest in mechanical engineering technology," said Grant Niese, a senior from Greensburg and chapter president. "We want them to know what they can accomplish after they graduate from high school."

The high school students got hands-on experience in three-dimensional modeling and stress analysis, milling, lathe work, welding, plasma cutting and oxy-acetylene cutting.

"The goal is to allow students to get a better understanding of these fields," said Todd Alberts, a mechanical engineering technology instructor. "Sometimes people think manufacturing is a dark, dingy place, dirty assembly line stuff, and it's not that. The world of engineering is much more exciting and computer-based with robotics and automation. It's about making the world a bigger and better place by applying technology. At Indiana State, we excel at the application of technology in a hands-on way."

Allyson Johnson of Westport, a junior at South Decatur High School, said she likes the hands-on learning Indiana State offers.

"Instead of someone telling you, ‘This does this,' you actually get to do it yourself," she said.

Taijon Thompson of Chicago, a freshman at University of Chicago Woodlawn Charter School, agreed.

"It was nice to have hands-on experience with everything. I don't like to stand around and just watch. It was a good experience," he said.

Darla Blakely, also a Woodlawn freshman, said she liked working in the manufacturing lab and learning how different temperatures make it easier to mold metals into different shapes and said he might be interested in a career in the field, especially "if it leads to making cars and bigger objects."

Enrollment in Indiana State's College of Technology has grown by 84 percent in the past five years and the college has received more than $10 million dollars in industrial software donations in the past two years, noted Robert English, dean of the college. Programs in the college also have high placement rates, with some at 100 percent and others approaching 100 percent, he said.

"Our faculty make the college a great place," he told the students. "They are engaged and they have fun. As you look for a college and a major, make sure it's a good alignment with what you're doing and it is something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy working with your hands and making this work, this is a great place."

Contact: Todd Alberts, instructor, department of mechanical engineering technology, College of Technology, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or