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ESCO Engages Blog

Weir Shares Expertise with Future Engineers at West Albany High School

by Kevin Stangeland


28 November 2018




As STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education becomes more prevalent in our schools, it is important that we continue to promote and get children excited about STEM careers from a young age. As the Director of Engineering for the ESCO Division of Weir, I am grateful for the opportunity to expand our pool of qualified candidates to join our team and help grow and develop the next generation of young engineers.


We’re always looking for opportunities to help get high school students interested in engineering. I was excited when I heard from a fellow Oregon State University (OSU) engineering graduate, Tim Fief, about a new class at West Albany High School.


IMG_4738_E.jpgTim, a local Albany business owner and industrial engineer, was struck by a comment from his son about the type of engineering he chose to pursue and why he chose that discipline. Tim’s goal was to give students a launch pad for thinking about what they wanted to do heading into college or other secondary education. He shared his idea with the principal at West Albany High School. After taking the first step toward initiating a new curriculum for the high school, Tim became certified to teach high school courses through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at Linn Benton Community College.


Tim has been volunteering to teach the class, geared toward juniors and senioers with an interest in STEM and different types of engineering. Curriculum is broken into two-week (five classes) blocks, each of which are focused on a specific engineering discipline. The first class features someone working as an engineer, followed by an Oregon State engineering professor, a day of research, a written or oral presentation from the students and, if possible, a field trip to visit engineers working in that discipline.


The ESCO Division’s longtime connection to OSU engineering made us a natural partner for the class. Throughout the semester, three of our engineers have been visiting the class, representing three disciplines: mechanical, environmental and electrical engineering. 


Yesenia Torres Guest Speaker (2)_E.jpg

Yesenia Torres was the first engineer to visit the class in September. Yesenia gave an overview of her experience, her educational background and why she chose to study mechanical engineering. She shared information on our products, what life is like for a mechanical engineer, and a high-level explanation of our design process. She also showed the class some of the exciting software programs and lab capabilities that we use to solve some of our customers’ toughest problems​.


“The students were fascinated with several of our products and asked a lot of questions about how things work,” Yesenia said of her visit. “I was excited to get questions like these. It really showed the young engineers’ minds at work!”


Spencer Giles visited the class in October to talk about his career in environmental engineering. Spencer also shared his background with the students and said that he believes the class will help them narrow their focus on their future careers. He was also impressed by their level of understanding of STEM topics.


“At the end of the lecture, I presented a typical environmental engineering emission problem that involved multiple steps of calculations. I was amazed at how quickly one student solved the problem – within a couple of minutes!” said Spencer.

IMG_4723_E.jpgOne of our highlights was getting to invite the class up to Portland to get a behind-the-scenes look of our operationsDziugas Radzius put together a tour of the Hank Swigert Center for Innovation, where the students participated in a few simple, hands-on engineering experiments. They were thrilled to learn about the chains we created at ESCO and the various treatments we use on the steel alloys that gives them various material properties. They were able to see, on a smaller scale, what our engineers do every day to create our products.

From class visit to on-site presentation, students were able to come full circle with Yesenia—they got a firsthand look at her work station and even try their hand at using CAD software. When asked what they enjoyed most, student Ezequiel Villegas said, “There is a lot of improvement that goes into a product, even after it [is] released….All of it was really fun and a great learning experience, showing me how fun and awesome some jobs are.”

We look forward to continuing our relationship with this group of students. Jason Betournay will be the final ESCO engineer to speak to the class about electrical engineering at the end of December.


Throughout the semester, all of our ESCO engineers have enjoyed the opportunity to give back to and help grow our community of engineers at home in Oregon. Many of us wished we had been able to take a class like this in high school! We look forward to continuing our relationship with the students of West Albany and working with more future engineers across the state.