HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) – To combat the national shortage of engineering graduates, leaders at engineering consulting company Garver are aiming to provide early career exposure and connect with students at a young age.

Garver has recruited fourth graders to be junior civil engineers during Engineering Week.

Students at F.E. Burleson Elementary School got a taste of what it would be like to design aircraft. They created their own planes, flew them towards a landing strip, and measured how far the planes would go, exposing them to data and graphing in the engineering world.

“I like that we got to color airplanes and see how far that they went,” said Trulicity King. “I was actually kind of proud of myself. I didn’t think I could throw it that far.”

Engineers work on projects from major transportation to designing and building engines and more. Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison says engineers help tackle some of the city’s biggest problems and are key to the way cities respond to issues.

“We depend on engineering services for many different things,” explained Garrison. “Whether it’s building a road, working on drainage, keeping our landfill operational, we depend on them for a lot of things.”

Courtney Tomberlin is an aviation senior project manager. She says the push for STEM careers has grown since she was a child.

“I was very fortunate to have been exposed to some STEM activities as a youngster. But yes, I wish the push, for especially female engineers, had been as great then as it is now,” said Tomberlin.

Burleson Elementary hopes that giving students opportunities like this will get them excited about learning, and maybe even lead students to take advanced math and science courses.