Summer camps help high school students learn about engineering

Photo of girls at engineering summer camp

 

The Dwight Look College of Engineering hosted 120 prospective engineering students on campus through various summer engineering camps. 

Sixty rising junior and senior level high school girls from across Texas and the United States participated in the Women Explore Engineering (WEE) camp July 8-11. An additional 60 students from 12 Texas schools participated in the E12 Explore Engineering (E12EE) camp July 15-18.

Photos of engineering summer campersThe four-day camps gave participants the 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 photonic energy and efficiently converted it from light to usable energy for solar cooking; and designed, built and raced small mobile autonomous robots. 

The wind energy and solar 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. Dr. Joseph Morgan and Dr. Jay Porter of the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution led the robotics workshop. 

The impact of these camps is significant. Albert Coronado is one of the high school students who left the camp with a lasting impression. Coronado said he became so interested in solar energy that he continued studying solar panels after the camp completion. He even learned how to solder, purchased hardware and assembled a solar system by himself at home.

Photo of Albert CoronadoCoronado said, “This has opened my eyes to the potential of engineers and I can't wait to start on my next project.” Pictured: Coronado proudly showing off the solar panel that he constructed on his own after returning home from E12 Explore Engineering camp.

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

One camper said, “I learned a great deal about engineering in general, as well as the specific topics covered in each field of engineering.”

The camps are created to give students a chance to experience the design process and teamwork. 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. Robin Autenrieth, senior associate dean for academic affairs, who cites faculty interaction as one of the reasons for the camps' successes. "Texas A&M's engineering summer camps are among the few camps that allow students to interact directly with faculty in design projects."

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,” Autenrieth said. 

Another camper agrees, and said, “I would never have considered Texas A&M as strong a college choice if I hadn’t attended this camp."

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 and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

 "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.”

Industry or individuals interested to explore sponsoring opportunities for these camps should contact Lagoudas at m-lagoudas@tamu.edu.

To view photos from both camps, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamu-essap/. Comments from participating campers may be viewed at the Texas A&M Engineering YouTube site at http://www.youtube.com/tamuengineering.