National Engineers Week was created in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers to increase an understanding of and interest in engineering and technological careers.
HAKS kicked off the 2014 National Engineers Week (February 16-22) by visiting P.S. 101Q in Queens to take part in the annual PENCIL Partnership Engineering Fair, which helps to bring engineering principles and challenges into the classroom.
In cooperation with Principal Monique Lopez-Paniagua, approximately 120 4th grade students were given the opportunity to build various structures—a gumdrop dome, a paper bridge, an aluminum boat (Topple-a-Tug) and an 18-story tower (Jenga)—and then figure out how to modify their design to withstand loads in the form of pennies or blocks. They learned, for example, that a narrow boat can only hold 10 pennies without sinking, whereas a wider boat can hold as many as 277. They also used a bridge simulation program (West Point Bridge Design) to design a virtual bridge strong enough to carry the load of an animated truck. The students had to strengthen unsafe structural members until the bridge was stable.
Alberto Villaman, P.E., Senior Vice President, head of the Construction Inspection Group, coordinated the fair with the assistance of Francine Fyffe and seven volunteer “teachers” from HAKS who oversaw the various stations.
HAKS is well known to the students of P.S. 101Q. In 2012, Husam Ahmad, Chairman and Co-Founder of the company, collaborated with the school to enrich its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum. This year, HAKS is working with the fourth grade on a social studies/STEM project about Governors Island. In January, HAKS assistant vice presidents Kenneth P. Mangam, P.E. and Eliecer Pertuz, along with Alberto Villaman, gave a detailed presentation on the island’s history and modes of transport to reach it. To encourage critical thinking and creativity, the students have been asked to come up with a cost-effective means to transport passengers to Governors Island from locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. The project will culminate with a presentation at a year-end fair in June. In addition to learning about Governors Island, and perhaps more important, the future engineers learned how to function collectively in a research group.
To read more about the PENCIL Partnership and HAKS’ participation, visit
PENCIL Partnership Program.