QuesTek Wows STEM Students With First Annual Community Outreach Day

Evanston, IL., December 10, 2021 — QuesTek Innovations LLC, a global leader in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) technologies, recently hosted its Inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Outreach Day, providing students from Chicago Tech Academy High School with an educational and immersive learning experience.

“It was such a success,” said Jeff Grabowski, QuesTek’s Manager of Business Development. “The students and teachers were all very engaged throughout the day, and I was pleased that there was so much enthusiasm from across the QuesTek technical staff in coordinating a unique, hands-on exposure to materials science in our laboratory. It was very rewarding for all of us involved.”

ChiTech students and QuesTek staff - group at table
ChiTech students and QuesTek staff

Located in Pilsen, Chicago Tech Academy High School (ChiTech) uses project-based learning, STEM education, real world experience with Chicago companies, and entrepreneurial principles to shape a diverse next generation of leaders and entrepreneurial thinkers. For many of the students, it was their first time visiting Evanston and getting an up-close look at materials engineering.

The first half of the day included a discussion on the basics of materials science and QuesTek engineers providing advice related to studying and careers in engineering, along with the following small group demonstrations:

Light Optical Microscope – students observed the structures of different materials and how processes affect these structures.

Scanning Electron Microscope – students saw how metal fracture samples appeared at a higher magnification than light optical microscopy.

Forging – students watched lab personnel hot forge a metal sample, altering and
strengthening the material’s microstructure.

Arc Melting – students observed how QuesTek can produce small prototype quantities of design metals via melting into 1” diameter x 0.5” thick samples.

Stirling Engine – students powered a small Stirling Engine with hot water and discussed how heat was converted to motion.

The second half of the day was spent at Northwestern University’s Materials Research Center. The students toured different stations led by department faculty and facility experts and concluded the day by participating in a panel discussion held at the Materials Science and Engineering Lab with undergraduate students, graduate students, and representatives from the National Society of Black Engineers.

Forging demo with QuesTek’s Peter Jacobson - students watching metal worker
Forging demo with QuesTek’s Peter Jacobson

Tiara Wheatley, ChiTech’s Sr. Director of Corporate Engagement and Philanthropy commented, “We thank QuesTek for proactively making contact with ChiTech. Our visit with them and to Northwestern was an enriching experience! Students left with an enhanced understanding of what career options in the field are and were inspired by everyone who provided insight and real world experience into what it’s like to be a Materials Science Engineer.” She added, “All of us at ChiTech are extremely grateful for partners like QuesTek who understand the importance of college and career readiness skills for our African-American and Latinx students – and who make the commitment to invest in the development of our students.”

The overall schedule was intended to give students exposure to professional engineering and higher education environments, painting a picture of a career path in materials science.

“One key piece of advice we made sure to emphasize was to encourage the students to proactively seek out internships in a technical field while still in high school or early in college,” said Grabowski. “In fact, QuesTek hosts interns regularly, including at the high school level, and we left the door open for interested ChiTech students and science teachers.”

SEM demo with QuesTek’s Jacqueline Hardin - students at computer
SEM demo with QuesTek’s Jacqueline Hardin

In addition, QuesTek is connecting ChiTech with other local manufacturing companies and engineering firms for access to internships and career day field trips. Building off of the success of this event, QuesTek plans to hold a Community Outreach Day every year.

About QuesTek Innovations

For over 20 years, QuesTek has applied its metallurgical expertise and ICME technologies to efficiently create new materials meeting mission-specific properties. QuesTek has been engaged across a variety of industries to optimize commodity materials and design novel materials and processes for over 100 commercial and government clients in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information about QuesTek’s modeling and design capabilities, please visit Additional news and blog posts are also available at