Michigan’s Ann Marie Sastry discusses how to change the world through engineering

Ann Marie Sastry a Michigan engineer, modern-day energy innovation trailblazer and environmental champion discusses how to change the world.

The Michigan State University Extension science team is currently planning the 4-H Science Teen & Adult Volunteer Leader Workshop, scheduled for March 9-10 at Kettunen Center near Tustin (view the Kettunen Center conference video). The goal of this workshop is to teach teen and adult leaders to develop the next generation of problem solvers.

The 4-H science workshop offers a variety of sessions for teen and adult volunteers ages 13 and up (as of Jan. 1, 2013). This year, in an exciting new format, the MSU state science team will offer a Michigan 4-H Great Lakes Auto Engineering & Design Challenge, adapted using the national 4-H Junk Drawer Robotic Curriculum. The engineering and design challenge teaches about friction, the engineering design process and how to build more efficient machines.

Great innovators, like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison have taught us that being an engineer requires specific knowledge and skills, above and beyond those learned in the classroom. Engineers must have a good understanding of basic science, mathematics, physical/life sciences and information technology. They also need to be curious, creative and have a desire to learn.

Ann Marie Sastry is an engineer and a Michigander from Ann Arbor, who, like her earlier scientific predecessors, grew up in an environment that encouraged a love of tinkering and exploration. She is a modern-day trailblazer in energy innovation and champion of the environment, focused on developing a lighter and more energy dense battery that will make the electric car competitive. Her goal is to give more people access to clean energy so that the planet will be less dependent on oil. Ann Marie believes that her upbringing, growing up with parents who encouraged her to "never overlook an opportunity to learn from someone, along with her willingness to take risks, fail and start over, may just give her what it takes to change the world.

Ann Marie advises others to, pick a problem that will make a difference, break it down and tackle it one piece at a time. She cautions others not to work in isolation. On the other hand, working with a diverse group of people who bring different ideas and life experiences is key.

Aside from the above characteristics, engineers who understand the social context of their issue, including the history, economics and environment relating to the problem are better armed to find real-world solutions. Other characteristics that prepare engineers for their careers include safe work practices, patience, flexibility, an ethical lifestyle and good communications skills (written, verbal, and graphics). All of these characteristics, combined with formal education, help engineers to work effectively when devising innovative solutions.

The Engineering Challenge at Science Leader Workshop will offer participants a fun and stimulating opportunity to find out if they have what it takes to be a successful engineer. Other hands-on educational science sessions will be offered on animals, plants, the environment, robotics, alternative energy, film making, and technology.

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