120 kids participate in Texas A&M Engineering summer camps

Students building model windmillThe Dwight Look College of Engineering recently hosted 120 prospective engineering students on the Texas A&M University campus.

Rising junior and senior high school students from 12 Texas schools participated in the E12 Explore Engineering (E12EE) camp July 10-13, and girls from across Texas and the United States participated in the Women Explore Engineering (WEE) camp July 17-20.

The four-day camps gave participants the opportunity to explore engineering as a career through three team design projects. E12 and WEE participants worked in teams to explore the ideas of green energy by building a small scale wind mill capable of converting wind energy into electrical energy; develop and test a game using engineering and physics to transmit light wave signals to a target using detector circuits; and design, build and race small mobile autonomous robots.

The wind energy and laser design projects were led by Dr. Timothy Jacobs of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Christi Madsen of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The robotics workshop was led by Dr. Joseph Morgan and Dr. Jay Porter of the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution.Two girls working on electronic board

One camper said, “I was interested in becoming an engineer before attending camp, but it was never more than a plan that seemed appropriate. The result from my attending the WEE camp was completely unexpected, because the knowledge I gained and the experience I had was inspiring and exciting! Learning firsthand from both professors and students was exactly what I needed to realize that this was the correct path for me.”

Through interactions with engineering faculty and current students, field trips to engineering facilities and hands-on design projects, camp participants learned about different fields of engineering and the undergraduate majors offered by the college. Many participants said that the camps helped them learn about engineering in a way that was both fun and engaging.

Another camper said, “Having an opportunity to talk one-on-one with current engineering students about what classes are like, what you study, and what you can look forward to after college was the best encouragement and advice I could have received! They answered all of my questions and gave me confidence in studying engineering. I'm proud to say I will be applying as soon as the application opens to Texas A&M University, but I'm excited to say I'm applying to the Dwight Look College of Engineering!"

Two boys building robotThe camps are designed to give students a chance to experience the design process and team work. Students completed their projects and presented their work to their co-campers and families. Engineering faculty and staff served as judges to select the top three teams in each design group for award recognition.

"Engineering summer camps are an excellent way to increase the number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)," said Dr. Jo W. Howze, senior associate dean for academic programs, who cites faculty interaction as one of the reasons for the camps' success. "Texas A&M's engineering summer camps are among the few camps that allow students to interact directly with faculty in design projects."

Through support of generous sponsors, students who would not have been able to attend otherwise were able to receive scholarships for the camp. Contributions to the camp were provided by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Hewlett Packard and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).Two male students testing robot

"Financial support is very significant for our camps," said Magdalini Lagoudas, director of Engineering Student Services and Academic Programs. "It helps us provide opportunities to explore engineering as a career option to high-performing students with financial needs. Our sponsors recognize the need for more qualified engineering graduates to support our nation in the global market and have partnered with us in our outreach efforts.”

The E12 and Women Explore Engineering Summer Camps have been offered since 2009. More than 85 percent of the camper participants from the two previous camps applied to Texas A&M. Of those who applied, 71 percent confirmed their admission within an engineering major.

“The E12 and WEE camps have been very beneficial to our recruiting efforts” said Dr. Howze.

Industry or individuals interested to explore sponsoring opportunities for these camps should get in touch with Ms. Lagoudas at m-lagoudas@tamu.edu.

To view photos from both camps, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamu-essap/.