A GPS student field trip to Astec Industries was, in the words of Daniel Millbank, GPS director of Educational Technology, “a cross-curricular masterpiece.” The girls who attended, all members of the JETS club (Junior Engineering Technical Society) received a little physics, some chemistry, a dollop of environmental science, a review of plant safety, and even some business information.
The first event was part of the GPS Girls in the Gig City initiative that is designed to “enrich student experiences, broaden teacher perspectives on 21st century learning, and help promote community building locally and globally through engagement.”
Because GPS now has a 3-D printer on campus, the students and staff on the morning visit to Astec were also interested in how that technology has changed the company. A visit to Astec’s 3-D laboratory and research and development area gave the GPS visitors a look into the future along with an opportunity to see a burner in action.
Two female Astec engineers, Ms. Catherine Sutton-Choate and GPS alumna Noelle Currey '87 answered questions from the girls and shared their stories about being in a mostly male-dominated profession. They emphasized the importance of following a dream, and when they said that women make better engineers, the male engineers in the room agreed.
Astec Industries, Inc.’s website describes the local industry as a “global leader in the manufacture of equipment for asphalt road building, aggregate processing, oil, gas and water well drilling and wood processing, among others.”
Chattanooga has the nickname of Gig City because, according to the Gig City website, it is “the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer one-gigabit-per-second fiber internet service to all residents and businesses…at 200 times the speed of the national average.”