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On November 13th, 2019, students from the MESA Charter High School in Bushwick, Brooklyn came to the NYC Department of Design and Construction for a screening of the documentary film Dream Big, Engineering Our World and to meet with DDC built environment professionals. The documentary seeks to inspire students to become curious about the world around them and show students how they can impact and advance society utilizing engineering.

Over the course of the school year, MESA High School students have been conducting a long-term project on climate change and New York City’s effort to combat the effects of global warming.  After viewing the documentary, students met with Landscape Architect Sofia Zuberbuhler-Yafar, a Project Executive in DDC’s Green Infrastructure unit. They asked her questions about the nature of her work and her personal journey towards a career in architecture. Ms. Zuberbuhler-Yafar spoke about Green Infrastructure and DDC’s efforts to remove debris and pollution by reducing combined sewer overflow into local water bodies by installing bioswales and rain gardens around New York City. Ms. Zuberbuhler-Yafar explained how these efforts help to greatly improve the quality of NYC’s water.   Very impressed with MESA Charter High School students grasp of the content, Ms. Zuberbuhler-Yafar stated,  “the students were engaged and quite knowledgeable. I felt like I was preaching to the choir!”

“Dream Big is a film that follows extraordinary engineers who have devoted their lives to keeping society safe and solving tomorrows challenges. It is our hope that this film will inspire our young people to become future innovators and to understand that they have the power to change the world.” said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives. “Engineering is at a crossroads during these challenging times. Engineers must respond to the changing needs of an increasingly globally-connected and diverse population to address the many challenges our society will face and ultimately to better the human condition.” 

MESA Charter School’s Executive Director Arthur Samuels stated, “Our kids came back super-psyched and fired up for their projects.” The students will be able to correlate climate change and hopefully, in the future become activate in New York City contesting the effects of global warming.”

Dream Big sparks an adventure unlike any other. It is an epically fun tour of inspiration through the visionary advances made by yesterday’s, today’s – and most thrillingly of all, tomorrow’s – engineers. Throughout human history, engineers have been behind-the-scenes forging an ingenious variety of lifesaving, even civilization-altering, structures, gadgets and gizmos. Yet never before have engineers been so vital to humanity and or so visible in the culture. Narrated by Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges, this is the story told by DREAM BIG, marking the first film to answer the call of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiative – which offers a fresh perspective on engineering and aims to inspire kids of diverse backgrounds to become the innovators, educators and leaders who will improve the lives of people across our entire planet throughout the 21st Century.

Produced in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers, DREAM BIG reveals how engineers have changed both everyday lives and entire societies: from the Roman Arch to the Great Wall of China, from one much-needed village bridge to the cosmic International Space Station, from underwater robots to death-defying rollercoasters, wind-defying skyscrapers and pneumatic tube vehicles that might one day zoom at 700 MPH. The journey spans the globe because engineering is truly a universally shared need – from China and Nepal to Dubai, Australia and Haiti back to Seattle, San Francisco and Phoenix, Arizona, following a group of engineers from diverse backgrounds, each excited to ask in their own way: “What cool solutions can we come up with next?”

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