Electrical engineering technology student Kenzie Moore works with Engineering Up at the Rochester City School District

Moore volunteered to teach K-12 students about STEM fields

Kenzie Moore, a fifth-year electrical engineering technology major from Los Gatos, Calif., volunteered with the Engineering Up afterschool program, partnered with the Rochester City School District (RCSD), which engages K-12 students in STEM-related fields.

Can you tell me about your partnership with the RCSD?

I was referred to work with a non-profit that is partnered with RCSD, known as Engineering Up. The referral came from a recent graduate in the same department as me, Eileen Figueroa. I was intrigued at the opportunity to help high schoolers who may be less fortunate to have access to engineering tools and knowledge via an afterschool program, at no cost to them.

Why do you believe that it’s so important to teach engineering/STEM skills to younger students?

I believe it’s so important because the challenges they face will help improve their creative thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. We also help them build a portfolio that they can submit along with their college applications to show off a project they’ve worked on and the skills they needed to learn to troubleshoot and overcome any issues. In the end, if they decide they would rather not do engineering as a career path, that’s great. The students have some idea of what they don’t like, which is a plus, and they still have learned valuable skills. Teaching the students also helps to reinforce many engineering principles and concepts within myself because I need to learn how to teach some more complex ideas in a simple format to students with little or no formal engineering experience. So really, everyone wins.

What was it like to teach the kids about engineering? How did it feel to get them interested in something that you’re passionate about?

There was a lot of guidance work that had to be done. In some sessions, students wouldn’t focus as much or be “present,” so part of my job was to help them re-center and get on track. It’s definitely something I’m not the best at, but I improved over my time at Engineering Up. I think the best part of teaching the kids was when I would try to help them troubleshoot something or explain a certain concept. I could see the gears turning in their heads. Then, watching the lightbulb turn on as they understood what was wrong or what I was saying. That had to be the best part of it all by far.

How has your time at RIT shaped your passion for engineering?

My time here has made me want to pursue teaching later in life more than ever. I’d love to be an adjunct professor someday.

What do you like most about RIT?

If I had to decide, it would probably be all the resources RIT has to offer. Whether directly in the form of a maker space like the SHED or something more personal like the networks and relationships that are built between classmates and professors. These are only possible in a community like RIT where the classes are much smaller than other universities and the connections are more real among the students, classmates, and professors.

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