Nearly 175 teens from Vance High and nine other Mecklenburg and Cabarrus county schools recently explored high-tech careers with help from the University City office of Dassault Systemes, the staff of the UNC Charlotte PORTAL Building and businesses based there.
The event was organized by Dassault Systemes as part of the annual National Manufacturing Day.
Held on Sept. 18 in the University’s PORTAL Building, the event helped students with interests in science, technology, engineering and math learn about the many career possibilities involving software technology.
Students were able to use 3-D software and printers and explore hands-on exhibits such as “The Living Heart,” a high-fidelity multi-physics model of a four-chamber adult heart with ready to execute dynamic, electro-mechanical simulations.
Students also toured several campus facilities including the Motorsports Lab and were entertained by a live musical performance featuring Jamil, a Charlotte artist and choreographer.
Dassault Systemes, based in France, makes and markets software to companies in aerospace, defense, architecture, engineering, energy and beyond. About 60-70 people work at Dassault’s satellite office in University Research Park.
Regina Davis, the community engagement leader for Dassault’s local office, organized the local event, now in its second year. She worked closely with James Walker, founder and CEO of Informative Technologies, in bringing the event to UNC Charlotte’s PORTAL building.
Located at the university’s North Tryon Street entrance, PORTAL is a workspace and innovation center for business pioneers.
Walker’s company, based at PORTAL, refurbishes and repurposes older computers for use by schools and nonprofits. Among the company’s objectives is to encourage at-risk students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Our goal (with the event) was to let students have the experience of being on a college campus and interacting with people in fields they are interested in,” Davis said.
Students learned how manufacturing is evolving and affecting them on a daily basis, Davis said. Students also met people who are developing businesses around software technology.
“It was a great day,” Davis said. “I was glad that the students enjoyed it. They asked great questions, too.”
And equally important, she said, “I saw students engaging with each other even from different schools. That was something I was looking for, too.”