Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Engineering college camp gives high school students hands-on experience

by   |  June 18, 2012
OU Daily
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.


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