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Free ‘Dream Big’ screenings return for Engineers Week

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An all-female engineer panel celebrating “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” on Feb. 22 highlights the second year of the “Dream Big” educational initiative at SteelStacks in Bethlehem this month.

The Lehigh Valley Section of American Society of Civil Engineers and ArtsQuest have again partnered to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math-based education during National Engineers Week. Area middle and high school students are invited to discover how engineering has helped transform the world by attending free screenings of the acclaimed educational film, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks on Feb. 20-24.

Student screenings of “Dream Big” are at 9 and 11 a.m. on Feb. 20-23, with a public screening at 10 a.m. Feb. 24. Following each student screening, students take part in a question-and-answer session with local engineers.

On Feb. 22, students will have the opportunity to meet and speak with an all-female engineer panel featuring Rettew project engineer Elizabeth Helsel, Harsco Industrial Patterson-Kelley process engineering manager Laureen Pellegrino, Praxair Inc. facility superintendent Carly Scuderi and EnviroAce founder and president Mary Rooney.


Rooney said that engineering is a great career.

“It provides interesting projects to work on and a good salary, but it’s hard work to get there,” said Rooney, a member of the Lehigh Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers who last year was named the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers’ Lehigh Valley Chapter Engineer of the Year. “Just 30 years ago, 5 percent of the engineering graduates were women. Now it’s about 20 percent, but we still have a long way to go. 

“In putting forth an all-female panel, we want to make a clear statement about the success of women engineers to let our enthusiasm for our careers show. We hope the film and this panel will encourage girls in the audience to voice their questions now and to persist in school in the study of math and science. Big dreams take hard work.”


Last year’s successful screenings of “Dream Big” to more than 600 students in the region.

ArtsQuest education and outreach director Lisa Harms, LVASCE president Michael Derr and LVASCE education and professionals integration committee chair Stephen Ressler brought the film back to SteelStacks with hopes of exceeding 1,000 students this year.

“This unique collaboration utilizes the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas as a venue for ASCE to provide free school screenings of ‘Dream Big,’ ” Harms said. “In 2017, everyone was blown away by the positive response we received from students and teachers.

“The film itself is amazing and unlike anything most of us had ever seen. The Q&A sessions with the panel of engineers really engaged students and got them thinking about careers in engineering. It was wonderful to see the impact this experience had on so many students.”


Among the school districts participating in the free Dream Big screenings Allentown, Bethlehem, East Penn and Parkland, as well as schools of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown.

As part of each screening, teachers and educators will receive access to educational resources, including an educator guide with lesson plans for all grades (kindergarten through 12) that align with Next Generation Science Standards; instructions for 50 hands-on engineering activities; and 10 educational videos they can incorporate into their curriculum.

The innovative partnership between ArtsQuest and the Lehigh Valley Section of ASCE is an educational initiative developed by the Lehigh Valley’s ASCE education and professional integration committee. The initiative focuses on acquainting students with the practice of civil engineering by offering educational programs, presentations and activities related to the profession.


“Dream Big” is designed to educate students about the essential role engineers play in the world, help raise awareness and change perceptions about the profession and inspire young people to consider careers in engineering.

Through its strong focus on education, the film enhances students’ understanding of engineering and inspires them to learn more about the “E” in STEM.

The film, created by the Academy Award-nominated producers of “Everest” and “The Living Sea,” takes viewers on a journey of discovery from the world’s tallest building to a bridge higher than the clouds.

Along the way, audiences witness how today’s engineers are shaping the world of tomorrow.


The public screening of “Dream Big” is for those who cannot attend during the week.

Tickets can be reserved in advance by registering at www.lvasce.org/events.

Donations will be accepted for the Feb. 24 screening, and all ticket donations go toward costs associated with the screenings.

Note: This article was submitted by the Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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