by Logan Cook, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2022 — Mrs. Carrie Sinkele is Bio-Med Science Academy’s newest engineering teacher, having joined the school at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Sinkele joined the sophomore team, which includes four other teachers new to Bio-Med.

Pictured is Sinkele instructing her 10th Grade Engineering Design class on 3D modeling software SolidWorks. Sinkele introduced students to multiple features in this lesson, including shells and ribs. According to SolidWorks’ website, a rib “adds material of a specified thickness in a specified direction between the contour and an existing part.” A shell “hollows out a part, leaves open the faces you select, and creates thin-walled features on the remaining faces.” Photo by Logan Cook, staff writer

Sinkele graduated from The University of Akron with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with a polymer specialization in the summer of 1999. While still an undergraduate, Sinkele interned at Kimberly-Clark, located in Wisconsin, and was then hired as a full-time employee after graduation.

According to Kimberly-Clark’s website, the company designs and manufactures “Andrex, Cottonelle, Depend, Huggies, Kleenex, Plenitude, Poise, Scott and U by Kotex.” Sinkele said during her time with the company, she worked on Huggies, Kleenex, Cottonelle, and Kotex.

Sinkele held the position of Process and Product Development Engineer while at Kimberly-Clark. “[For the] first few years, I was maintaining current products which was more working on cost saving,” Sinkele said. “Later on, I did advanced product development, which is developing products five years out from commercialization.”

Sinkele described her first position to be similar to the work students have here at Bio-Med, “The problem solving piece [is similar]; we were always given the challenge to decrease cost and product complaints. We worked with consumer feedback to do that. Very similar to things we do here, always trying to incorporate more real world experiences into our lessons.”

Sinkele stayed at Kimberly-Clark until 2007, when she became a teacher at Choffin Career and Technical Center (CCTC), located in Youngstown, Ohio. “I felt I would have a bigger impact daily [as a teacher] versus being part of a large company [where] you’re just a small person,” said Sinkele. “As a teacher, I run my own classroom and can make an impact that way.”

While at CCTC, Sinkele taught Manufacturing, Digital Electrons, and Engineering Principles classes to juniors and seniors. Sinkele taught with an Alternative Education License (AEL) due to her experience as an engineer prior to teaching. A teacher with an AEL is required to take certification courses, typically through a local college, which Sinkele did through Kent State University.

In 2010, Sinkele graduated from Kent State University with a Master’s Degree in Education Career Tech. “What’s unique with that license is you don’t have any student teaching,” Sinkele described. “You don’t go to school before that; you’re given the class [to teach] and you’re trying to figure it out as you go, while you’re also taking classes.”

Sinkele stayed at CCTC until 2019, when she left to teach at Liberty High School. Sinkele taught a Robotics course for seventh and eighth graders, an Engineering Design course for ninth graders, an Engineering Principles course for 10th graders, and two elective courses. Sinkele commented on the environment of the school, saying, “I was more of an elective teacher, I guess, the stepchild of the school. And [the engineering teachers] were great, but we were kind of an afterthought.”

At the end of the 2020-21 school year, Sinkele wasn’t looking for a new job. However, when she heard of the engineering teacher opening at Bio-Med, she felt as if Bio-Med had chosen her, “I had heard of the opening, and interviewed, and saw that it was a good fit for me,” she said. “I like the whole creative atmosphere that is going on here, the problem solving, and everyone working together. It was a pleasant surprise.”

Bio-Med’s new CTE programs are integrated into every student’s curriculum. Sinkele enjoyed this, as it was in contrast to the other schools she has taught, where CTE classes were often seen as “extra” and “not as valued as other academics.” Sinkele said this made her feel more valued, and closer with the other teachers. “I feel like I have a home,” said Sinkele.

Sinkele’s current class, 10th-grade CTE Engineering Design, is the same Engineering Design class she taught at Liberty High School. Sinkele noted that though she now teaches only one class, it isn’t much of a change.

“Teaching is totally different. Each day is totally different. I’m able to share what I’ve done and then have the students learn those things. With engineering, you never stop learning, you’re always applying new things,”  Sinkele said, comparing her time at Kimberly-Clark to her time teaching. “I really liked working with plastics, and being part of the factory and getting feedback from consumers. I do miss that.”

Pictured is Sinkele (Middle) watching the Bio-Med Robotics team compete at their first competition of the 2021-22 school year at the Mahoning County Career and Tech Center. Sinkele is the coach of the Bio-Med Robotics team, reviving it after the team had a multiple year hiatus. Teams compete in “alliances” which pair two teams together, the Bio-Med team was part of the blue alliance with a team from Elyria High School. Bio-Med and Elyria won the match by a score of 170-86. Sinkele’s Bio-Med team finished the tournament with a 4-2 win-loss ratio, ranking 10th overall. Photo provided by Carrie Sinkele.

Along with the classes Sinkele taught, she coached her previous schools’ VEX Robotics teams for 12 years. At Bio-Med, she revived the school’s VEX Robotics team after the team had a two-year hiatus. “It’s really cool to be part of the whole experience. Every team used the same parts and materials; it’s a level playing field,” Sinkele said. “So it’s great to kind of resurrect [VEX] here at Bio-Med, and work with the students here.”

In addition to coaching VEX robotics, Sinkele has judged for FIRST Robotics and Destination Imagination. According to their website, Destination Imagination provides seven project-based challenge types, which are designed to be “hands-on, collaborative and fun.” Sinkele has judged the Technical Challenge for over 10 years as part of Ohio’s Region One.

Outside of school, Sinkele enjoys spending time with her husband, Kevin, two sons, Mike and Steve, her cat, Mr. Kitty, and her dog, Chloe. Her husband teaches carpentry at CTCC, where he and Sinkele first met.  Sinkele said she is very involved in her childrens’ extracurriculars. Mike is on his school’s soccer team, and Steve is on a VEX robotics team of his own. Sinkele named her and Steve’s joint interest in VEX as a bonding point.

Pictured from left to right are Sinkele’s sons, Mike and Steve, Sinkele, and her husband Kevin. Sinkele and family are posed in front of a bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Memorial in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The bust, sculpted by Henry K. Bush-Brown, was dedicated in 1912. The family visited Gettysburg on a trip in the summer of 2021. Photo provided by Carrie Sinkele

Sinkele’s family has a history of engineering. “It kind of runs in the family. My dad was a mechanical engineer, and my brother was an industrial [engineer],” she said. Sinkele’s son, Steve, recently chose to pursue mechanical engineering, hopefully at The Ohio State University.

Despite the family history, engineering was not Sinkele’s first choice in high school. “What I wanted to do was psychology. My physics teacher told me that I would be in school forever, and said that he saw an engineer in me,” Sinkele said about her decision to choose engineering. “I really didn’t see an engineer in me, but later on it started to make sense and I decided it was a good fit.” Sinkele joked that she proved her physics teacher wrong, as she is now in a school forever.

Sinkele hopes to teach at Bio-Med until she finishes her teaching career. However, Sinkele acknowledged that she doesn’t know what the future holds, and that she’s unexpectedly found new jobs before, such as the one at Bio-Med. Sinkele plans to take it day by day, trying to do the best she can for her students and make an impact upon them.

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