An exhibit geared for children at the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown aims to show real engineering and design challenges faced by workers to encourage innovation and foster career awareness in the field of engineering.
The Tech City exhibition opens to visitors on Oct. 5 and will be available through Jan. 26, 2014.
The center is kicking off its 'Year of Innovation' workforce development project with a year of exhibits that teach children problem-solving skills that they might face on the job, in this case, in an engineering career, said Karen Knecht, director of education and exhibits for the Da Vinci Science Center.
"One of our primary goals with everything we do is workforce development," Knecht said.
Exhibit challenges include keeping a city safe from a large flood, building structures that keep people safe when a big earthquake strikes and adjusting the timing of traffic lights to make commutes shorter, with real constraints such as cost factors added in.
Knecht told Lehigh Valley Business that the development of the hockey arena in Downtown Allentown offers a timely example of the type of challenge an engineer would face.
"Planning for a traffic jam is very applicable to the city of Allentown in how that [arena] will change traffic patterns downtown," Knecht said.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said the exhibit directly correlates to what the city is building in the downtown.
"It's quite honestly an engineering marvel," Pawlowski said, referring to the arena and the buildings going up around it. "It really is a tremendous engineering feat. I think this is a great example of engineering coming together in a way that will transform the city."
People can see the engineering examples in the exhibit and then travel to downtown Allentown and see it happening for real.
Hopefully, it would lead youth into thinking about engineering careers, Pawlowski added.
For the exhibit, the nonprofit center also will introduce its new characters Julie and Zach with storyboards. Julie, a 12-year-old aspiring engineer, and Zach, a 9-year-old aspiring builder, will help guide visitors through the Tech City exhibition.
The traveling exhibit comes from Sciencenter, a science museum in Ithaca, N.Y., Knecht said.
Air Products and Chemicals Inc. in Trexlertown is the primary sponsor for the Year of Innovation program, and City Center Lehigh Valley is the main sponsor for the Tech City exhibit, she said.