Young women learn about ITD engineers,
recipe for tasty asphalt cookies
The recipe for making good asphalt works just as well for tasty cookies, with a few substitutions.
ITD engineers Monica Crider and Jayme Coonce demonstrated how asphalt is made by helping young women, grades 9-10, make cookies during the fifth annual e-Girls workshop recently at Boise State University.
Instead of typical aggregates – crushed rock, sand and limestone dust or cement – the young women worked with chopped walnuts, coconut and two kinds of oats. For tar, the group used melted chocolate.
“Making ‘Asphalt cookies’ parallels how real plantmix is made – four different aggregate sizes evenly mixed, bound together with sticky asphalt and then compacted to lock the aggregates tight and provide a solid surface,” said Coonce, District 3 region 2 construction engineer.
“We used this opportunity to teach what a roadway ballast section is composed of and just how thick the layers are underneath the pavement,” Coonce explained. “The girls were surprised to learn just how much goes in to a roadway structure and that it’s not the black stuff that provides the support.”
The e-Girls workshop is a two-day, summer program that explores engineering and computer science careers; it is designed for young women who will be high school sophomores and juniors in the fall.
Society of Women Engineers’ professionals and BSU students led participants through a variety of engineering-related activities. Some of the topics included Designing for Natural Disasters, Rocketing into Space, Biomechanics of Footwear and the Physics of Rock Climbing/Rope Walking.
Crider talked to participants about her responsibilities and what a typical day is like for her as an ITD design engineer.
“I focused on the statewide initiatives I work on, teams with stakeholders that I participate in as well as my goal of customer service to all parties, internal and external,” she said.
“My role as a statewide Headquarters’ administrator differs from Jayme’s as a district construction engineer, which has direct hands-on contributions to our product of roads,” she said. “I think we provided (students) two contrasting engineering career options.”
Both engineers said they were impressed with the excellent questions the participants asked.
“This is the second year that I have participated in the event,” Crider said. “Erika (Bowen) and I did it last year, and Jayme volunteered to be a part this year. We hope to continue to participate in enticing the girls to become civil engineers and maybe even to come to work for ITD someday.”
Coonce said she did not know what to expect going into the event, but remembered attending a similar activity when she was in high school and at that time wondering what engineers do each day.
“I provided a glimpse of what I do and what a typical day is like for me in construction, although most days are not very typical,” she said. “It was rewarding to have the girls get excited ….”
Photos: Jayme Coonce shares a typical day in her life as a construction engineer (top); Monica Crider ladles some chocolate (tar) for use in the asphalt demonstration (middle); chopped walnuts, coconut, and oats are premixed and ready foe use as aggregate for the asphalt demonstration (bottom).