QU offers high school students interactive workshop to explore STEM career options

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HAMDEN -- Encouraging students to play video games to teach them about career options?

That's what Quinnipiac University is doing this week in one of several interactive workshops designed to introduce more than  300 Connecticut high school students to career pathways in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Learning about a career industrial engineering through gaming was indeed an attention grabber.

"And the fact that this is about zombies, it's like 'Yes,'" exclaimed Nathalia Medina, a student at Pathways Academy in East Hartford.

"When I heard about the zombie part, I thought of like 'Call of Duty' and stuff like that," said Izzy Quintero, another Pathways Academy student.

Students from different schools paired up to strategize. The goal: create enough workers to supply enough chemicals to keep the zombies at the end of the line busy.

"If the zombies cannot find the chemicals here, then they start destroying the machines," said professor Emre Tokgoz, PhD, of the Quinnipiac School of Engineering.

This game was designed to teach the students about the relationship between supply and demand, which is perfect for those interested in industrial engineering, which deals with efficiency in the workplace

"This could be hospitals, basic stores, you know, grocery store, any type of store and it could be airports," said Tokgoz.

"I really like how we can take something like a computer and make it so you can interact with it and such a diverse way," said Dutcher Terrill, a student at Pomperaug High School in Southbury.

Industrial engineers, who are in demand in Connecticut, can expect a salary in the neighborhood of roughly $70,000 right out of college.

"There's about 5,000 manufacturers in Connecticut," said Tokgoz. "So, that's huge. Just in Connecticut itself."

Careers in STEM are the root of our future economy, according to many, which is why schools are placing such a high emphasis on it.