“This is not a candlelight dinner,” said Tracy Zhu, SFPUC Social Impact Partnership Manager. “Instead, imagine over a hundred young people connecting with scientists, engineers, and other STEM professionals to learn about how science ties everything together.”
The SFPUC owns and operates three dams, nine reservoirs, and three powerhouses across eight different counties as part of its Regional Water and Power System. Throughout the areas where the system runs through are pockets of communities that the SFPUC employs to manage and operate its system. Young people from throughout these communities, such as Tuolumne County, have family members that are a part of the SFPUC’s workforce and have grown up seeing the Regional Water and Power System in action.
This Wednesday evening at the annual “Dinner with a Scientist” event, more than 25 SFPUC staff, contractors, and scientists will fill a community college gymnasium to engage over 125 middle and high school students from Tuolumne County. These students will learn about engineering, operating, and maintaining the SFPUC’s water and power infrastructure surrounding the Tuolumne County community. The annual event is hosted by Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools and promotes STEM education and career awareness.
“Dinner with a Scientist is not just about having dinner and conversation, but think of it more as a science fair hosted by professionals for young people to give them a glimpse of STEM careers,” said Zhu.
The SFPUC and its private firm partners are supporting the event with volunteer and financial contributions through SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership Program.
For Madelyn C. Rubin, a previous volunteer for the event and a SFPUC Civil Engineer based in Moccasin, STEM education is critical in making a difference and helps build a career.
“STEM offers the tools to improve the world around us,” said Rubin. “The world is changing so fast these days, from technology to climate to energy to politics; we don’t really know what challenges the next generation will face and what tools will exist to help solve them. A STEM education focuses on how to learn, a skill that is relevant no matter what that future looks like.”