For two to three hours a day, four days a week, Arthur Baranovskiy has the opportunity to immerse himself in the world of engineering.
The 17-year-old Delta High School senior has been one of three interns at Meier Architecture and Engineering since September where he has spent most of his time working on electrical engineering projects.
“He’s actually capable of doing some things we didn’t expect,” said Steve Strickland, manager for the firm’s commercial electrical group.
The firm’s involvement in the Washington State STEM Education Foundation helped create the internship that Arthur is taking part in. That organization wants to expand those opportunities to more students in the Mid-Columbia, but it needs volunteers to do it.
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“There’s just a real push to help kids connect with these high-paying and high need jobs,” said Deb Bowen, the foundation’s executive director.
The foundation has worked for years to advance science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, learning in the Tri-Cities and around the state. The organization is primarily known for its role in Delta High School, the STEM-focused high school jointly operated by the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland school districts.
The nonprofit has helped bring in dozens of volunteers from STEM fields and led efforts to secure millions of state dollars to pay for the bulk of the construction costs of a new building for the school in west Pasco, scheduled to open next fall.
Bringing in volunteers and mentors to work with students at Delta High is still a priority, Bowen said. However, the organization wants to get STEM professionals into all Mid-Columbia high schools given the prevalence of those careers in the state but particularly in the Tri-Cities.
The foundation is launching a recruitment effort after the holidays to sign area STEM professionals up to work with students. Hosting internships, arranging job shadows, mentoring and judging science fairs are ways volunteers can work in the schools.
That could be easier said than done. Foundation members said it’s been difficult in the past recruiting retired professionals and active businesses for a variety of reasons.
“Scheduling time is always a difficult thing, especially when your business is time-based,” said Steve Anderson, president and CEO at Meier Architecture and Engineering and foundation board member.
But there are benefits from getting involved, officials said. Students get hands-on experience and guidance, while the businesses and professionals have the opportunity to give back to the community while also developing the future work force.
One of Arthur’s friends intended to pursue a medical-related career until he interned with a dentist. The student didn’t enjoy the experience and so did another internship with a taxidermist and is now studying biology and environmental science in college. For Arthur, engineering has been a career goal since seventh grade and his internship has only reaffirmed it.
“It would be great if more high school students had the opportunity I did,” he said.