Dorian Bobbett, senior chemical engineering major and Vice President of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Engineering Ambassadors, has a wild idea: if you make science fun to learn and give more kids the chance to learn it, a wider array of students will pursue it later in life.
And that’s a good thing for everyone.
“A lot of times, science and math are so scary – we give kids a really cool and creative opportunity to try things hands-on,” said Bobbett. “Our goal is to change the conversation and help kids see engineering all around them.”
A student organization in the College of Engineering, ambassadors visit K-12 schools across Nebraska to teach interactive activities designed to get students of all backgrounds excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Husker students develop activities directly for these classes, catering them to the ages of the students and needs of teachers.
The activities stretch far beyond what K-12 students would typically encounter, including a favorite of Bobbett’s where students design prosthetics for teddy bears.
“Not only do they get that hands-on activity, but we also get to have some real conversations about the importance of designing prosthetics for friends, family and people that they know – it helps connect that engineering is for everybody,” said Bobbett.
Bobbett found her love for STEM as a high school student growing up in Lincoln. She began teaching her freshman year at NU, developing and leading an afterschool STEM program for Belmont Elementary. Her work as an ambassador has cemented her passion for teaching: she’s now eyeing a PhD in hopes of becoming a university professor.
“Enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM is really close to my heart,” reflects Bobbett. “I’m a Pell eligible, first-gen student from a single-parent household, so engineering wasn’t something that was presented as a path for me growing up.”
Bobbett sees presenting this path to young students of all backgrounds as her primary mission within Nebraska U Engineering Ambassadors.
“There are so many students out there that could do wonderful things when given the opportunity,” said Bobbett. “I want to bring more students that represent greater backgrounds into the field, because that will be better for everybody.”