Lehigh University, TE Connectivity, and Broughal Middle School team up for annual thrill ride in STEM education
On Friday, May 4, Lehigh University, along with global industrial technology leader TE Connectivity and Broughal Community Middle School, is holding the 19th annual "TE Connectivity Expo," highlighting the importance of manufacturing technology to Pennsylvania’s regional economy while opening doors for kids and families of South Bethlehem.
Every year since 2000, faculty, staff, and students of Lehigh’s department of mechanical engineering and mechanics, supported by TE Connectivity, have joined forces to work with hundreds of students from Lehigh’s next door neighbor, Broughal Middle School, to learn about engineering as a potential career choice -- and have a lot of fun in the process.
Over the course of each Spring semester, teams of students from Lehigh and Broughal work together to design and manufacture miniature cars in a semester long program through an undergraduate manufacturing course. The Lehigh and Broughal students form teams of five or six, come up with designs for the racecars, and then fabricate and paint them. Under the supervision of the Lehigh students, the teams learn to use computer-aided design (CAD), CNC machining, and injection-molding techniques to manufacture their dream rides.
This year, 30 teams of students from Lehigh University and Broughal Middle School—comprised of 113 mechanical engineering juniors and 56 Broughal eighth-graders—spent the spring semester designing and fabricating ‘Matchbox-style’ cars as part of Lehigh’s manufacturing course, Mechanical Engineering 240.
The semester-long collaboration culminates at the May 4 Expo with the 19th annual TE Connectivity Expo at noon on a track set up at Broughal. Bobby Gunther Walsh, a NASCAR modified stock car race driver and radio announcer with local radio station WAEB 790 AM, has once again volunteered his services as emcee.
“Our partnership with TE Connectivity is a longstanding and remarkable university-industry relationship,” says David C. Angstadt, associate chair of mechanical engineering and the professor leading the effort for the past decade. “The relationship was initially established by [Rossin College Senior Associate Dean for Research] John Coulter, who helped lead the creation of the car project. Through our continued relationship, the TE Connectivity directly supports this project and the manufacturing course. However, the funding provides benefits that extend well beyond a single course.”
“The project and Expo is a boon to the kids of our local community and the public school next door,” continues Angstadt, who earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Lehigh in 2004. “However, it also benefits Lehigh students, who get an opportunity to work on a project with a tangible outcome for a real customer. The interaction with the middle school students throughout the project as well as with representatives of TE Connectivity on race day allow them to get a glimpse of how students, educators, and employers can work as partners to mutual benefit. None of this would be possible without the continued support of TE Connectivity, and for that we are extremely grateful. That funding provides crucial equipment and materials to this endeavor, and allows us to do things that we would not otherwise be able to do.”
“We’re very excited about this collaboration with Lehigh University and Broughal Middle School,” says Lauren Benne, global manager of corporate responsibility at TE Connectivity. “Engineering, technology and innovation are at the heart of TE’s business, and certainly a big part of that is developing the next generation of engineering leaders. We’re proud to support this program and we look forward to seeing the innovative designs the students will be showcasing at the TE Connectivity Expo.”
According to Rick Amato, Principal of Broughal Middle School, the program is a highlight of its annual efforts to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to Broughal’s students.
“Lehigh’s campus is located across the street from our school,” says Amato, “and we are indeed fortunate to have many Lehigh students come to Broughal to work with our students to assist in their learning and to serve as positive role models. We believe that, with high expectations, our students can become the best learners they can be, and that relationships are the most powerful influencer to change oneself, one’s community, and our world. The annual effort leading up to and including TE Connectivity Expo is a great example of our school’s core values in action.”
The TE Connectivity Expo takes place Friday, May 4, from 11:00am to 2 p.m. in the Broughal Middle School gymnasium. Interested media personnel must enter the school through the main entrance doors to sign in, show ID, and obtain a visitor's badge.
TE Connectivity Ltd. (NYSE: TEL) is a $13 billion global technology and manufacturing leader creating a safer, sustainable, productive, and connected future. For more than 75 years, our connectivity and sensor solutions, proven in the harshest environments, have enabled advancements in transportation, industrial applications, medical technology, energy, data communications, and the home. With 78,000 employees, including more than 7,000 engineers, working alongside customers in nearly 150 countries, TE ensures that EVERY CONNECTION COUNTS. Learn more at www.te.com and on LinkedIn, Facebook, WeChat and Twitter.
Lehigh University is a premier private residential research university ranked in the top tier of national research universities each year. More than 77,000 alumni from around the world have earned a Lehigh diploma from one of Lehigh’s four colleges—P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Economics, and College of Education. Located in Pennsylvania’s scenic Lehigh Valley, Lehigh’s campus is in close proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia and is right in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic corridor. For more, visit www.lehigh.edu.
Broughal Community Middle School is located in the heart of the South Side of Bethlehem, PA, and welcomes an ethnically diverse population of approximately 600 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students annually. Broughal, one of four middle schools in the Bethlehem Area School District, is designed as a science, math, and technology (STEM) signature school. As a LEED certified structure, the school features architectural enhancements which have been designed and built to improve energy savings, water efficiency, emissions and indoor environmental quality and lend themselves to student data collection and analysis. For more, visit http://basdwpweb.beth.k12.pa.us/broughal.
Broughal students at the TE Expo

Broughal Middle School students watch as their racecars speed down the track during a TE Expo event at Lehigh University.