The Lehigh Valley Section of American Society of Civil Engineers & ArtsQuest partner to strengthen STEM-based education during national ‘Engineers Week’

From the Great Wall of China to the towering skyscrapers in Dubai, human ingenuity has been behind engineering marvels big and small for centuries. Now, area middle and high schools are invited to discover how engineering has helped transform our world by attending free screenings of the new film, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World, premiering at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks as part of national “Engineers Week” Feb. 19-25. The film was produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films, in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and is presented by the Bechtel Corporation.

From Feb. 21-24, more than 600 students will attend screenings of Dream Big thanks to a partnership between the Lehigh Valley Section of ASCE (LVASCE) and ArtsQuest. The film, created by the Academy Award nominated producers of Everest and The Living Sea, takes viewers on a journey of discovery from the world’s tallest building to a bridge higher than the clouds. Along the way, audiences witness how today’s engineers are shaping the world of tomorrow.

Dream Big is designed to educate students about the essential role engineers play in our world, help raise awareness and change perceptions about the profession, and inspire young people to consider careers in engineering. Through its strong focus on education, the film enhances students’ understanding of engineering and inspires them to learn more about the “E” in STEM, the curriculum-based approach to preparing students for the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“This film strives to energize the desire in students to enter a STEM related field by showing that engineering is not only about math and science, but about human compassion and the well-being of our future and how we can use science, technology, engineering and math to change our future and the future of others,” says LVASCE President-Elect Michael Derr. “We need more students to enter STEM related fields since there is a significant shortage of American born engineers and based on current trends, it will continue in that direction until more students realize that STEM can make a tremendous impact on their life and the lives of others.”

Among the school districts participating in the free Dream Big screenings so far are Bethlehem, East Penn, Easton, Northampton, Parkland and Saucon Valley school districts, as well as Central Catholic High School and the Swain School. As part of each screening, teachers and educators will also receive access to a variety of educational resources including an educator guide with lesson plans for grades K-12 that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); instructions for 50 hands-on engineering activities; and 10 educational videos they can incorporate into their curriculum. At the conclusion of all screenings, students will also take part in a Q&A session with local engineers and ASCE members including Derr, an engineer with Geo-Technology Associates Inc. of Quakertown, and Stephen J. Ressler, Professor Emeritus from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

“Partnerships with organizations such as ASCE help us provide comprehensive and robust educational offerings for our region’s schools,” says ArtsQuest Director of Education Lisa Harms. “In our role as a community resource for educators and students, ArtsQuest looks to create a wide range of educational opportunities using our resources, our facilities and our partnerships in the community. We’re grateful to ASCE for this innovative program that provides information on the field of engineering, as well as gives students the chance to ask questions of professionals working in the field.”

The innovative partnership between ArtsQuest and the Lehigh Valley Section of ASCE is an educational initiative developed by the Lehigh Valley’s ASCE Education and Professional Integration Committee, which focuses on acquainting students with the practice of civil engineering by offering educational programs, presentations and activities related to the profession.

ArtsQuest and LVASCE are still accepting reservations from area middle and high schools for the Dream Big screenings. Field trips/reservations can be made by contacting ArtsQuest Director of Education Lisa Harms at or 610-332-1389; schools that need assistance with transportation costs may be able to request funding from the program’s sponsors to help offset some of the costs.