Civil Engineering’s CampBUILD introduces students to engineering diversity

DSC_0287.jpgWith a successful first year behind it, the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University hosted its second group of high school students for CampBUILD, a project-based summer camp full of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) application and collaborative environments.

The weeklong camp aimed to equip each student with a newfound knowledge of the diversity of civil engineering, as well as an appreciation for what it is to work as a team pursuing solutions, innovation and creativity. Campers enjoyed seeing the variety of real-life problems that civil engineers aim to solve, particularly when given a chance to participate in their own experiments.


“Project-based learning is a highly effective approach, particularly for STEM education,” said Dr. Robin Autenrieth, department head. “You put students in the decision making position with a real-world challenge and encourage them to work out a solution with a realistic outcome. Added benefits are things we can’t teach them, like the value of collaboration, critical thinking and confidence.”

Over the course of the week, students participated in a variety of hands-on experiments, tours, and competitions. They saw clean water dripping from a filter they built themselves, a truck smash into a guard rail at a crash test, one of the world’s best equipped labs to model coastal structures, the intricacies of building a stadium for 100,000 football fans and huge testing machines that are able to verify that the steel beams in that stadium actually can support the weight of all those fans.

DSC_0254.jpg“I really enjoyed learning about all the different areas of civil engineering and how they are applied to real world situations,” said Timothy Uzzell, a homeschooled junior who recently moved to Texas from the UAE. 

More than 75 students applied from all over Texas, as well as California, Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio. Campers were reviewed based on their academic achievement, particularly those who have not had access to engineering in their schools. It was very important to bring to campus a group of highly qualified campers from a wide variety of backgrounds.

“The problems that civil engineers are currently solving, and will solve in the future, involve a diverse range of geographies, social issues, people, economic questions, historical precedents and environmental concerns,” said Dr. Kelly Brumbelow, associate professor and faculty adviser to the camp. “With that in mind, we need a civil engineering professional that has experienced and appreciates this richness, and we selected a group of campers that spans these ranges.” 

DSC_1010.JPG“I’m glad I came. I’ve never met so many interesting people from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s just an amazing opportunity,” said Anthony Glenn, senior from Carver High School in Houston.

The 2014 CampBUILD has also resulted in recruiting some of the campers to the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M. Of the 20 rising seniors who attended the 2014 camp, 13 will enter Texas A&M this fall as freshmen, with 11 students specifically entering the engineering college.

“I really recommend you come to CampBUILD because you meet people you never thought you’d be friends with, and you learn so much beyond engineering,” said junior Makysia Goodwin, of Sachse High School.

For pictures from the weeklong camp, click here.