February 26, 2020

This past weekend was the Chicago Architecture Centers (CAC) annual Engineering Fest, an event in which Epstein served as a sponsor and one that aims to inspire young people and their families through the power of engineering.

The theme for this years fest, which is geared towards middle and elementary school children, was Cities on the Move. Visitors were able to see engineering-specific exhibits and participate in several other activities. Additionally, visitors also had the opportunity to meet and talk with professional engineers. Epsteins Gwen Cortez, Design Engineer, volunteered at E-Fest.

Hear from Gwen about her experience:

"I was stationed at the marshmallow structure station, where kids were directed to build an elevated train station out of toothpicks and marshmallows. Most of the kids I interacted with were between 5 and 10-years-old. As the consulting expert, I advised on which shapes were the strongest, provided an extra set of hands when things started falling over, and commiserated over the weaknesses of marshmallow as a building material. I enjoyed talking to the kids, who had great insight into the real world applications and were very proud of their structures, and the parents, who wanted to learn about my career path and how to best support their kids interests.
"Other stations included creating cardboard elevators, building and testing bridges made of plastic straws, and public works themed storytime. I was very impressed with the event and so were the attendees I interacted with. Personally, I really appreciated seeing so many young girls so excited about engineering."

According to Gwen, these are some of her favorite moments of the event:

  • A roughly 10-year-old boy telling her adding more supports to his bridge would make it cost prohibitive in the real world
  • A girl excitedly describing to her the interior layout of her train station, including pyramid shaped underground ticket booths
  • Having a parent ask her what she enjoyed doing in her childhood as a young builder to get recommendations for their daughter
  • Seeing a young girl run around in a polka dot dress and a plastic hard hat

Some fun stats from the CAC: We served 1, 268 guests from 141 unique zip codes, surpassing our goal and making 2020 one of our biggest E-Fests yet!