For the second year in a row, Craig Merrett, assistant professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson University, has been recently recognized by Nepris as one of its Top Volunteers for 2020.
Nepris is an educational service provider that connects K-12 classrooms in remote or underserved areas with industry professionals across the country. Merrett got involved with Nepris when he arrived at Clarkson in 2016. Merrett and the other top volunteers have collectively conducted 161 sessions in 2020, impacting thousands of kids.
“I am delighted to be recognized as one of Nepris’ Top Volunteers again. Interacting with students across the country has been a lot of fun, and provides an opportunity to share my passion for aerospace engineering with K-12 students,” Merrett said.
In his work with Nepris, Merrett has participated in four different types of sessions, covering topics such as aerospace engineering, what it’s like to be a university student, connecting classroom content to the real world, and Industry Chats, where Nepris professionals present on a particular topic. In response to COVID-19, Nepris launched virtual summer camps, where Merrett led a session on paper airplanes. To date, Merrett has connected with 3454 students in 36 states through 63 sessions.
“Volunteering with Nepris provides many benefits. Having to explain aerospace engineering concepts to a Grade 3 student, for example, encourages you to fully understand the fundamentals and articulate the fundamentals in clear and simple language. This practice helps improve my lecture and classroom activities at Clarkson. Another benefit is that I can reach students in rural or remote areas that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to talk to an aerospace engineer. These talks encourage students to pursue STEM education in the trades or as engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. I highly encourage fellow faculty to volunteer because the list of requests is broad, everything from marine biology to roller coaster physics to statistics,” Merrett said.