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STREAM program leads senior Colleen Chiavola to discover college, career goals

STREAM program leads senior Colleen Chiavola to discover college, career goals

Senior Colleen Chiavola’s STREAM III research project focuses on carbon monoxide poisoning. Colleen plans to test different carbon monoxide detectors and measure their sensitivity by seeing how long it takes for them to go off. In using that information, Colleen hopes to design and develop a better, more cost effective detector.

“Over the summer, I was absolutely stumped as to what I wanted to do, and the idea came to me when I was babysitting, because one of the kids hit the stove. Carbon monoxide isn’t something you can taste, smell, you can’t identify it unless you have a detector, so their carbon monoxide detector went off, and it was really confusing as to why it went off [because I didn’t know the kid hit the stove at the time] and then I checked the stove. So I started doing research on carbon monoxide and how there are so many different types of detectors and their sensitivities are different and they are promoted in different ways, so I decided for my research project to look into carbon monoxide poisoning and how it is detected specifically,”

The purpose of Colleen’s project is to take price, sensitivity, and appearance into consideration to discover which detector is the best. She has chosen a variety of existing carbon monoxide detectors to test including one that is best rated, one that is the most expensive, one that is the cheapest, and one that is most commonly purchased. Her research goal is to help prevent future accidental carbon monoxide deaths. At the end of the school year, Colleen will be able to publish her research and present her findings at the STREAM symposium.

Colleen Chiavola and Leslie Everson, civil engineer and Senior Construction Technology Manager at Walsh Construction.

Colleen plans to study civil engineering in college. She said the STREAM program helped her decide what she wanted to major in. During STREAM I, the class had many guest speakers, allowing her and her classmates to learn more about engineering and how you use science and math in certain careers. One of those guest speakers was Leslie Everson, civil engineer and Senior Construction Technology Manager at Walsh Construction.

“One of our goals for STREAM I was Dr. Leider wanted us to get a taste of what we want to do, because your four years fly by and it is better to start early, because if you know it’s not for you, you still have time to figure it out. She helped us all get job experience in whatever field we were interested in at the time. For me, I shadowed Leslie at Walsh Construction and I loved it,” Colleen said.


Colleen Chiavola working at Walsh Construction

While shadowing Leslie Everson at Walsh Construction, Colleen was able to tour job sites, talk to engineers and other workers about their different jobs; she sat through safety meetings to make sure “when I go on a job site I know where to go and where not to step,” she said. Colleen also sat in on bids and learned how the company budgeted costly projects, and she even got to maneuver machinery, such as a scissor lift. One thing she said she really found interesting to learn was how to test concrete and she really enjoyed working in close proximity to cars, trains, and planes shadowing different projects at the Mile Long Bridge and O’Hare Airport.

“I would definitely suggest STREAM…it has really helped me figure out what I want to do. It is a break from having to worry about taking a test or it’s a stress relief in a way, because you know what you want to do after leaving RES. It prepares you in a whole other aspect, which one of the main missions of RES is to educate young women and be able to send them off into the world,” Colleen said.