Engineering Spotlight: STEM II Club


Saffia Ouali

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are some of the driving forces of modern-day society. These important topics are prevalent throughout our school’s STEM II Club, to which is run by the club members, Mrs. Serino, and Mrs. Hester-Fearon.

Throughout the past few months, engineering-related topics have been discussed throughout our meetings. Engineering, oftentimes defined as the application of science and mathematics in the real-world, is a prevalent topic that we continue to further explore.


The STEM II Club had the fortunate opportunity to converse with Miss Bhumi Patel, a structural engineer. She has primarily worked on different types of bridges, and with her knowledge and experience, she was able to answer many of the questions that we had in regards to her field of study.

Some students, for instance, wondered about techniques that are used to prevent a bridge from collapsing. When building a bridge, it is important that the amount of stress placed upon the structure by a load will not cause the bridge to collapse. Using materials such as steel could help ensure the strength and durability of the bridge, as a bridge would need to withstand a given amount of weight. Miss Bhumi Patel explained that steel is a ductile and malleable material, which signifies that it is flexible and strong, and could be formed into different shapes, respectively.

In regards to the characteristics of a bridge, Miss Bhumi Patel also noted that suspension bridges are best suited for longer spans. The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn, is the longest suspension bridge in the United States!

One final topic regarding bridges that Miss Bhumi Patel discussed with us was the importance of structural integrity, which refers to how well a structure could perform without failing. She elaborated by stating, “It is important when designing a bridge that all critical members are redundant. A critical member is a member that is essential to support the loads on the bridge to get to the foundation…[A redundant member] means that if one critical member fails, the loads should be able to take another path to get to the foundation in order for the bridge not to fall.” In simplest terms, the different members of the bridge function in unison to support the given load traveling across the structure, thus improving the structural integrity of the structure.


Conclusively, the topic of structural engineering is one that has been of much interest to the STEM II Club. We are especially grateful for Miss Bhumi Patel’s help in understanding this field of engineering, and we hope that more students become interested in the field of STEM. In the end, while we continue to grow and learn, the next generation of great engineers may be simply working amongst ourselves.