Engineering students put their skills to the test during the sixth annual National Engineers Week at Binghamton University, showcasing their research while interacting with faculty, alumni and the local community during various events.

The Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science held several events from Monday to Saturday, sponsored by companies like IBM, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.

The highlight of the week was the Alumni, Students and Friends event, which was held in the Engineering and Science Building at the Innovative Technologies Complex (ITC) on Thursday night. Alumni, students and community partners toured the newly opened Smart Energy Building, viewed student research and listened to alumni speakers including Mary O’Malley-Trumble, ‘99, and Alecia Rundell Lashier, ‘02.

Lindsey Sikorski, director of the Watson School’s career and alumni connections, said the event is important for networking on the part of students and alumni.

“We set it up as a networking event so that our students can talk to people who have been through it before, so they can network with them,” Sikorski said. “But also, so our alumni can connect with each other — that’s really important too.”

Joe Prisaznuk, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, and Matt Simiele, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, attended the event to represent the BU Mars Rover Team, which competes against over 90 universities worldwide in designing the most durable and effective Mars rover. They presented their project to attendees and alumni.

“We built this rover to drive through the desert and do four individual tests, so it will be able to drive autonomously,” Prisaznuk said. “Other things include manipulating tools for astronaut assistance basically to simulate what it would actually be like on Mars if there was people there.”

One alumnus, Adam Van Buren, ‘08, said he enjoyed coming back to the University to interact with other alumni.

“If I could sum up my thoughts on the alumni event and [Engineers] Week as a whole, I would say that it’s a wonderful way to connect with like-minded people and a way to find purpose for what we work hard to accomplish in our careers,” Van Buren said. “It’s a source of inspiration and motivation to me to see colleagues progress in our field. Networking with alumni and current students and learning of their journeys is a way for us to quantify our efforts, a tangible reward for our work.”

Other events included the Engineers Week 2018 Dinner on Tuesday night, held at the Holiday Inn in Downtown Binghamton. There, New York State Society of Professional Engineers scholarship recipients from Broome Community College, Tompkins Cortland Community College and BU were recognized, and different organizations and attendees presented their featured research.

To close out the week, the Watson School Dean’s Office held Community Day at the Engineering and Science Building in the ITC, which offered an array of resources and activities for local residents. The stations, run by undergraduate students, involved using engineering skills to build slingshots, paper airplanes, lava lamps, prosthetic hands and more.

Megan Shoen, senior assistant to the Watson School dean, organized the event and said the activities were designed to teach local children and spark their interest in engineering.

“Community Day is an event that’s focused on connecting our students with local community and kind of exposing the kids to professions in engineering,” Shoen said. “The idea is to inspire the future generations of engineers.”

Jim Kohlbach, a 44-year-old attendee from Windsor, said his children enjoyed learning from the students.

“These guys love building with their Legos and their blocks and everything,” Kohlbach said. “We thought it’d be a great opportunity for them and they came down and absolutely loved it.”

Grace Clark, a senior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said teaching kids how to build paper airplanes using engineering skills was fulfilling.

“I think that it was rewarding to teach even the smallest engineering idea to kids of all ages,” Clark said. “They may not know how big the concept they’re learning is, but just to even show them a little bit in a fun way is really cool.”