In an effort to grant networking opportunities to students and spread an appreciation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the community, the Watson College of Engineering and Applied Sciences celebrated Engineers Week virtually this year.

National Engineers Week is celebrated annually at Binghamton University with a variety of events open for engineering students. The weeklong event culminates in Community Day, where engineering student organizations hold STEM-themed activities for local children. This year’s Engineers Week, themed “Imagining Tomorrow,” took place from Feb. 22 to 27 and featured events such as trivia nights, information sessions and panels with various companies, such as GlobalFoundries and Lockheed Martin.

The final networking event, “Alumni and Friends Networking Night,” took place on Thursday evening on the virtual platform Remo and had over 200 people in attendance. The event featured keynote speaker Robert Kump, ‘83 and the deputy CEO and president of AVANGRID Networks, an energy services and delivery company.

According to Kimberly Coleman, director of Watson career and alumni connections, some aspects of the event could not translate to the virtual setting, but organizers worked to create the best experience for students. Coleman said one of the most difficult challenges was moving Community Day to a virtual form, but students have been working since the fall semester to adjust the event.

“In the past, Community Day has been an all-day event for local children and their families to participate in a wide variety of fun, interactive activities,” Coleman wrote in an email. “These hands-on activities, hosted by the Watson student organizations, illustrate engineering and science principles in a fun and interactive way. The event is typically held in-person at the Innovative Technologies Complex. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have moved virtual but still have all of the offerings of the past. We had to be creative, but the student organizations did an amazing job using innovative ideas to make the event as engaging as possible for the kids.”

Daniel Iacobacci, chief engineer for the BU Rover Team, co-founder of the Watson Combat Robotics League and a junior majoring in computer engineering, discussed the changes in the presentation of his organization’s Mars Rover at Community Day, as the event could no longer be live.

“This year, however, [the live demonstration] wasn’t an option as the rover isn’t in a place to be demonstrated due to delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions,” Iacobacci wrote. “Instead, we opted to show students how we build our rover digitally before we ever make it physically, have students submit name suggestions on a Google Form and have a discussion about the similarities/differences between our rover and Perseverance, the rover that recently landed on Mars.”

Hunter Williams, a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering and the community service chair for Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, said he was passionate about spreading appreciation for STEM to the community.

“Engineers Week is something our organization always looks forward to,” Williams wrote. “We are able to share our experiences as engineers and get young people excited about careers in STEM. I think going into the week this year compared to others is obviously a lot different, but, with good planning, the week has held the same energy that made it successful in previous years. Part of what makes people special in STEM is their ability to adapt. I believe this week is a great example of this.”

Iacobacci also noted the importance of Engineers Week and its contribution to community engagement.

“Engineers Week 2021 is an interesting one and is not without its challenges,” Iacobacci wrote. “However, the most important parts of Engineers Week still remain — engaging with students to share our passion of engineering with them and celebrating what makes engineering such an interesting field. We believe that our events will still fulfill that goal, and, if they do, Engineers Week 2021 will be a success!”