OU engineering students and
faculty collaborated with British Petroleum to host more than 50 high
school students from across the state in summer engineering camps last
week on campus.
The two camps, BP Discovering
Engineering Via Adventure in Science for girls and BP Engineering
Academy for boys, were exposed to several different programs.
Adam Mitchell, an electrical
engineering senior who helped with the electrical engineering
presentation, said the camps expose high school students to the
engineering programs OU offers.
“It’s about showing people engineering has a bunch of shapes and forms,” Mitchell said.
Research shows simply exposing
teens to engineering doubles career interest in the field, Mitchell
said. BP camps strive to expose students to diverse areas of the field
and excite them for their future, he said.
“They’re building an entire laser-tag system based on schematics we gave them,” Mitchell said.
The 23 girls and 29 boys on
campus last week are getting a lot of information and experience from
the university, but these young students have had impact on the faculty
and students working with them, said Robin Birch, an aerospace engineer
junior who assisted with event programming. She said
she was impressed
by the drive of these students.
“They have a lot of aspirations, very optimistic,” Birch said. “They want to change the world.”
Birch said she is optimistic of the impact of this program.
“It’s the fifth year of the
program,” Birch said. “It’s supposed to make high school students aware
of how diverse engineering is — there are a lot of stereotypes, but
really, engineering is problem-solving.”
The students who attend these
camps are focused but are learning many engineering concepts for the
first time, including Southmoore High School senior Kalawna Bowman.
When asked how the laser tag system worked, Bowman said, "I’m about to learn, actually — we’re being taught that right now.”
Potential future Sooners are
learning valuable engineering lessons years ahead of the curb. Bailey
Thornburge, a Bethel High School sophomore who heard about the camps
through OU’s website, said she is already learning vital information.
“Everything has a function,” Thornburge said.
This lesson was reinforced to
Thornburge by a seminar that involved taking apart a toaster, one of
many hands-on activities. Other activities included Lego robots and a
peculiar “Three Little Pigs” scenario that created a unique avenue for
testing student-built structures.
Organizers plan to continue hosting the camps next year.