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For the past 12 years, Bullitt County Public Schools has partnered with GE Appliances (GEA) and their Director of Engineering Development, Mr. Mike Ekbundit. Over the course of this partnership, Mr. Ekbundit has worked with the students attending BCPS’ Bullitt Advanced Math and Science (BAMS) Program in order to mentor them through various engineering-focused projects.
This year, not only will Mr. Ekbundit continue to work with the district's BAMS students, he will also be leading groups of engineering pathway students from every high school in the district on a year-long journey of discovery and innovation. This continued partnership helps support several of the district’s Graduate Profile competencies, especially that of students being “Innovative Problem Solvers”. In regards to student innovation, Mr. Ekbundit stated, “Phenomenal outcomes happen when you take bright minds, remove barriers, then inspire, equip, enable, and empower them.”
The focus of this year’s projects is all about accessibility and inclusion. Students have begun the year by beginning to observe local parks in their communities to identify “mismatches”, or barriers to the world. Mismatches are the building blocks of exclusion. The students involved in the GEA partnership will look to remove some of these mismatches from our community and park spaces, specifically those that inhibit the participation of individuals with mobility concerns. “There’s enough brainpower in this room, that we can solve almost anything we put our minds to,” Mr. Ekbundit told students during a visit to the district on Wednesday, September 22nd. “We want everyone to be able to have good experiences,” continued Mr. Ekbundit. “Not so that everyone can do [the activity] in the same way, but so that everyone can do it the way they want to do it.”
During his visits on September 22nd, Mr. Ekbundit visited students in BAMS, as well as students in the engineering pathways at Bullitt Central and Bullitt East high schools. Mr. Ekbundit brought several members of GEA’s Commercial Development Program to help each group. GEA’s Commercial Development Program develops future leaders in the sales and marketing organization. This week’s sessions were all about helping students understand specific needs in the community and define who would benefit if those needs were met - understanding “customers” and their needs. “It’s important to think about folks that are different than you, who have different experiences than you,” said Mr. Ekbundit, and this will be the foundation of the students’ work this year.
Throughout the remainder of the year, these BCPS students will choose which problems they want to help solve, brainstorm possible solutions, create prototypes, and even present their ideas to city councils in their hometowns. When asked about the impacts of this year’s project, Mr. Ekbundit had this to say: “The students will be introduced to inclusion and diversity in an organic way, learn new life skills, and directly impact the communities we live in. It's going to be a great year!”