Intel Engineer�s Story Gets Kids Thinking
Jo Willie Lives in Two Worlds
Intel Fab 23 Mechanical Engineer, Jo Willie started taking things apart just about the time she mastered walking and talking at three years old. And when elementary kids hear that, they listen. Jo spoke to children at Mountain View Elementary school in Colorado Springs School District 20 during NEW (National Engineer's Week). Twenty-five Intel engineers in Colorado Springs are speaking to students during NEW and there are hundreds of engineers doing the same thing across the country.
Jo was very impressed with the fifth graders she spoke to, "You know I have taught math at the college level and I would ask for questions and no hands would go up! Today, it was cool talking to fifth graders, because eager hands were up all over the place."
Jo is a mechanical engineer and she told the students that she loves to fix things and solve problems. She also brings a unique perspective to engineering. One girl asked Jo if we could live without engineering, "Sure you can, but it is very, very different and you might miss some of the things you use very day."
"My parents don�t have phone service and when I grew up, my grandfather never learned how to drive. He preferred to drive a wagon," Jo is Navajo and her family lives outside of Gallup, New Mexico. "A lot of people think everyone has a phone and electricity and running water, but there are pockets of the U.S. that don�t have either of those things and I am not just talking about the Indian community."
The children had great questions for Jo, like what was the biggest thing she ever fixed? She told them about a one-million gallon water tank she installed at Intel�s site in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Jo also told the story about the time she took apart a clock that belonged to her mother and she got into big trouble and that prompted the question about the first thing Jo ever took apart. Jo had the kids giggling with her response, �My sisters toys, her dolls and cars and I was only three years old.�
Jo has always been curious about the world around her and the children asked about her personal inventions, �I invented a solar oven out of a big bucket and pipes and other stuff that is found around a ranch. I won a prize for that invention at a Passive Solar contest in California.�
�It was cool, because I learned about how hard engineers work to get things to operate,� said fifth grader, Kris Heeringa.
Jo also taught the kids about Intel and its products. Intel in Colorado Springs manufactures flash memory chips that are found in cell phones, PDA�s and digital cameras. Jo brought along a silicon wafer and explained how computer chips are made and that impressed Julia Szewczynski, �I thought the wafer was cool and I liked how they could cut it with a diamond.�
�It was fun to learn how the computer works and to see how small the chips are and then think about how powerful they are,� said Kyle Wallace.
Jo spends time with students to encourage them to have fun with math, science and engineering and she hopes her stories open some eyes, like Nicole Heffington�s eyes, �When I realized everything needs fixing, I realized engineers are everywhere!�