Engineering club hosts speaker


Caroline Crews, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Jack McClurg, associate professor of practice at the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) at the University of Mississippi, spoke to OHS’s engineering club.  McClurg has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and both a master’s degree and Ph.D in materials science.

McClurg spoke to the students about the importance of engineering, the opportunities that engineering has presented to him, and the versatility of a mechanical engineering degree.  Having a mechanical engineering degree allowed for him to do aerospace engineering work, process engineering work, and quality engineering work, as well as mechanical engineering.

Engineering club sponsor Susan Kelly also has a degree in mechanical engineering.  She worked for the United States Air Force with the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Kelly agrees that a degree in mechanical engineering can open many doors.

“I think when you get a degree in a STEM field, when you get a technical degree, it shows an employer that you’ve worked very hard in college, that you took a very challenging course load, and you made it through, and you are capable of a lot,” Kelly said.  “As you can see from what he said, you can do a lot with that degree.”

Ten students from the engineering club attended the event.  McClurg said that the small number of students is “pretty indicative of the science technology field as well.”

According to McClurg, there is a high demand for people to fill STEM jobs, and he thinks that it is important to get young people interested.  He especially wants to deter students’ worries about the difficult math and sciences classes that students must take in order to receive an engineering degree, which he believes is a common fear.

“Most younger kids these days are scared off by the fact that there’s a lot of math and a lot of science and physics, and that kind of scares a lot of students, but if you can make it through all of that stuff, you can work on some pretty cool stuff,” McClurg said.

Sophomore David Evans attended the meeting and is interested in becoming a mechanical engineer.

“The future will be more technological and we’ll have more machines and stuff, so we’ll need people to be able to improve on them and repair them and to just be able to jump into that field of work, because that’s where a bunch of the jobs will be in the future,” Evans said.

Kelly thinks that it is helpful for high school students to have the opportunity to listen to speakers like McClurg so that they can get an idea of the engineering curriculum and job opportunities.  In addition, she feels that sparking students’ interest in engineering is important.

“We wouldn’t have most of what we use on a daily basis if we didn’t have engineers,” Kelly said.