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Students Gain Insight at Breakfast of Engineers

Breakfast of Engineers participants

Local engineers shared their expertise with Oyster Bay High School students during the fifth annual Breakfast of Engineers.


Oyster Bay High School engineering students gained a better understanding of various engineering disciplines, thanks to the knowledge shared by local professionals during the fifth annual Breakfast of Engineers.


The event, coordinated by Ms. Janna Ostroff, the District’s K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology for Instruction, was developed with the goal of creating a pipeline of capable engineers from Oyster Bay High School.


Held in the high school library, students and professionals — specializing in civil, environmental, aeronautical, aerospace, mechanical, industrial, electrical and materials engineering — listened to three guest panelists discuss their area of expertise and how they solved real-world problems. Then, in intimate roundtables, they worked together on solving engineering challenges. Students also had the opportunity to ask questions and initiate discussions to gain a deeper understanding of the engineers’ respective fields.

students speak with engineers  students discuss construction projects students sit down with engineers

Guest panelists included Mr. Youssef  Saafan, a mechanical design engineer at Carson Optical, an optical consumer products company; Ms. Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, a professional engineer and vice president at AECOM, serving as a business development strategist for the Long Island region; and Mr. James Wiesenfeld, a licensed engineer in six states and a longtime teacher at New York Institute of Technology who specializes in architectural structures.

 Breakfast of engineer panelists  a panelist discusses his work  an engineer sits down with students


During his presentation highlighting various New York City construction projects, Mr. Wiesenfeld shared some food for thought from his father, who was also an engineer, “It’s not enough to solve a problem, you have to think about how the solution is implemented. It doesn’t make any sense to design something that can’t be built.”

teacher and students listen to an engineer  students listen to an engineer before the presentations  sitting at a roundtable with an engineer


Also sharing their insights were Mr. Michael Angelone, a mechanical and industrial engineer with his own consulting business in Oyster Bay. Ms.Nora Brew, an environmental engineer with Walden Environmental Engineering of Oyster Bay; Mr. Jerritt Gluck,  a materials engineer with over 25 year experience specializing in building systems; Mr. Joseph M. Heaney III, owner and principal  of Walden Environmental Engineering; Mr. Steven Kerr, an Oyster Bay High School faculty member  who has a background in marine engineering and naval architecture; Mr. Keith Kowalsky, a mechanical and materials engineer who served as president of Flame-Spray Industries, Inc.; Mr. Jonah Schachner, a mechanical and  aeronautical engineer; Mr. Peter Syrett, who served in the U. S. Army as a Combat Engineer; Ms. Christina Berardi Tuohy,  who specializes in civil site design and construction; Mr. Matthew Werner, the academic dean at The Webb Institute and a doctoral candidate in Ocean Engineering: and Mr. Art Zahradnik,a civil engineer and senior hydrogeologist for the international engineering firm, Arcadis.

 women students and engineers  another roundable with an engineer

Oyster Bay High School junior Mikayla Gardon, a student in Mr. Andrew Schlendorf’s Engineering I and 2 class, said of the event, “I loved it. I loved talking to different types of engineers. One of them is an aerospace engineer, which I thought was cool because you don’t usually get to meet one of those,” she said.  “Working with the engineers on problem-solving was amazing because it gave you a little taste of their world."


Mikayla also expressed how the event influenced her career goals.

“Originally, I wanted to go into music production, but Mr. Heaney advised me that I could go into electrical engineering and that I would be more marketable in music production. I really appreciated that from him,” she said.


another engineer speaks to students  students with architetural plans

James Grassie, a senior who plans to study biomedical engineering next year, said, "It was really cool to have a window into what I might end up doing. I especially enjoyed talking with Mr. Matthew Warner about his work with submarines. He shared some interesting military stories. I’m a big fan.”

 Janna ostroff at Breakfast of Engineers

Ms. Ostroff explained how engineering is woven into the District’s K-12 programs with such projects as creating anemometers, vehicles, polymeters, windmills and parachutes at the elementary level. Vernon School students tinker, build and create in the makerspace program, and at the high school, the District offers Introduction to Engineering and a college-level engineering course through Stony Brook University. In computer science, choices include CISCO networking certification, Advanced Placement computer science and 3D video gaming and programing classes.   


Ms. Ostroff thanked engineering teacher Mr. Andrew Schlendorf, computer science teacher Ms. Suprabha Malhar-Jain, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Dr. Lisa Mulhall for their support of the event, as well as all the professionals who took part in the program.