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Summer camps expose high school students to engineering

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 5:21pm
Texas A&M University

The Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University hosted 143 prospective students on campus during two camps held in July.

Seventy-five rising juniors and seniors participated in the Women Explore Engineering (WEE) camp and an additional 68 students from 12 Texas high schools participated in the E 12 Explore Engineering (E 12 EE) summer camp.

The three-day camps gave participants, who have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), an opportunity to explore careers in engineering through three team design projects. The teams built a small-scale windmill capable of converting wind energy into electrical energy, harnessed optical energy and efficiently converted it from light to electrical energy, and built and raced small autonomous robots.

Dr. Joseph Morgan and Dr. Jay Porter of the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution led the robotics workshop. Dr. Christi Madsen of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. Timothy Jacobs of the Department of Mechanical Engineering led the wind energy and solar design projects.

Students worked directly with engineering faculty and current students, visited facilities in the college of engineering and were exposed to information about engineering as a career and the undergraduate engineering programs at Texas A&M.

 “I really want to be an engineer and this experience has helped me decide which field I want to go into,” Maria Lazaro of Dallas said. “There’s more technology every day and I just want to be a part of creating something new.”

At the close of each camp, students presented their work to their families and fellow campers. Engineering faculty and staff served as judges and recognized the top three teams in each design group.

“What impresses me the most is that I’m impressed every single year,” Jacobs said. “The students are always demonstrating creativity, excellent work ethic and they are genuinely here to learn. They go from knowing nothing about energy, or the design process, to being able to ask questions about it that we never discussed in class.”

The E 12 EE and WEE summer camps have been hosted by the college of engineering since 2009. Since then, 75% of students from E 12 EE and 65% of students participating from WEE have applied to the Look College.

Generous sponsors awarded scholarships, making it possible for students who would otherwise be unable to participate to attend. Donations to the camps were provided by BP, Shell, Phillips 66, Chevron, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“Engineering pre-college summer camps are vital to give high school students, specifically underrepresented and first generation students, a new perspective on their academic abilities and potential,” said Dr. Sonia Garcia, senior director for access and inclusion. “Students get a taste of the college environment and enjoy new opportunities to investigate educational goals, explore and broaden their knowledge in the field of engineering, work together as a team on their engineering projects, and build lasting relationships with peers who share similar academic and personal interests.” 

Summer camp students 2WEE and E 12 EE are designed for rising junior and senior high school students who have As and Bs in their high school courses and who have a strong interest in a technical career. 

Industry or individuals interested in sponsor opportunities or who have questions about these camps should contact Garcia via email at garcias5@tamu.edu.

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