Pratt & Whitney Engineers Inspire Middle School Students at Annual Career Day

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Eighth graders at East Hartford Middle School, as well as 62 science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) students from area magnet schools, learned about many career opportunities during the annual Career Day at EHMS recently.

With eighth grade an important year for many, as they begin to think about high school and their career paths, the 36 guest speakers on hand on May 17 surely played a role in encouraging their ambitions and dreams. Of the many speakers, who ranged from fire marshals and reporters to a cartoonist and probation officer, two Pratt & Whitney engineers offered their guidance.

Engineer and Program Manager of the 757 Heather Relation presented a video of an F-35, which she referred to as, "the latest and greatest in Air Force, Marine and Navy technology."

"It's a really, really cool aircraft," Relation continued, as an awestruck classroom learned of vertical take-off and landing.

Students got in as many questions as they could before the bell rang, signalling them to head to the next presentation. Before the bell, however, students learned that these aircraft cost, "millions and millions and millions of dollars." They also learned about bird-strike testing and other safety measures.

Pratt & Whitney Engineer Beth Matonak was also a presenter during Career Day. Questions from students included, "Can the planes do burn outs?" and, "Why don't we have hovering cars?"

Matonak's career goals in aviation began early on, in fifth grade, when similar speakers visited her classroom such as stunt pilots, a hot air balloonist, air traffic controllers and, at an even younger age, an astronaut.

"One of the most rewarding parts of my job is working with the military," Matonak noted. "I know that they are protecting our freedoms, and I'm helping them."

Her video presentation included the complex process of aircraft carrier landings, during which she explained the various vocational opportunities awaiting the students of today.

Sponsors of Career Day at EHMS are the East Hartford Rotary and Pratt & Whitney. The program is put together through the efforts of Penny Brice of the East Hartford school system and East Hartford School-Business Partnerships, which include former and current United Technology Research Center employee board members.

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