The students' eyes followed the rapid movement of two toy towers as they rocked back and forth.
What tower was more stable?
Engineer Nicole Baer and the students identified the weak spots in the structures, added pieces and tested how stable the buildings stood amid the shaking foundation.
"I'm going to increase the speed," Baer told the group of South River High School students. "Which one is going to fall off first?"
Local civil engineers used models, posters and tools to explain their jobs to about 400 county high school students at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
Ray Streib, who founded an engineering company in Millersville, has been organizing the event to inspire students to pursue careers in civil engineering.
Students took turns rotating more than a dozen tables, each specializing in a field of civil engineering. At another station, engineers explained the tools they use to construct three-dimensional models of construction sites.
Mark Harrison, a surveyor at Maryland State Highway Administration, explained they use an infrared laser beam to measure distances.
Turning his baseball cap backward before peering into the machine, Harrison joked, "we invented this look."
They showed students a drone to collect pictures and information and software that plots 3-dimensional digital models.
Javier Rentas, a North County High School senior, was surprised to find so many options in the civil engineering field.
He said he could picture himself a surveyor or an environmental engineer — but no office job.
Kailyn Smith, a senior at Meade High School, said she was inspired to learn some jobs don't require extensive education.
Wilson Hammer, an Arundel High School sophomore, wants to improve and preserve the Chesapeake Bay.
"It's super crucial, critical to every day life here," Hammer said.
Engineering might be his calling.
"You have the ability to go out in the field and design something useful to the general public," he said.