August 15, 2013
Eighth and Ninth-Graders Get Early Introduction to Engineering at Summer Institute
Not many middle and high school students can say they spent a few days of their summer vacation on a college campus building electrical circuits and working in an aerospace lab.
But that is exactly what 59 rising eighth and ninth-graders from throughout the state were able to do by attending the second annual Early Engineering Institute at the University of Washington, July 22-25.
The event provided an introduction to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields for students served by Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). They came to UW from as far as the Yakima Valley, Mount Vernon and Vancouver to live in the dorms, participate in workshops, visit labs, conduct experiments and study in college classrooms. The institute culminated with an awards ceremony and poster presentation.
The Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) RISE UP (Rural Initiative in STEM Education and Undergraduate Preparation) GEAR UP grant partnered with Washington State GEAR UP and the UW College of Engineering to host the four-day conference.
“The goals of the Early Engineering Institute are to spark students’ interest in STEM and expose them to engineering through fun, hands-on workshops, labs and math classes,” said Jessica Perkins, College of Engineering Program and Operations Coordinator. “We want them to walk away with stronger math skills and a better understanding of what an engineer is, what they do and the impact that engineers have on the world.”
Emily Hansen, a soon-to-be freshman at Skyview High School in Vancouver said she learned a lot about electrical engineering, computer animated design and 3-D printers. She also enjoyed living like a UW college student for four days.
“It was a fun, awesome experience to stay in the dorms, walk around campus and feel like you’re in college a bit,” she said. “I might go here. It’s between this and Stanford.”
Michael Ledesma, a ninth-grader at Grandview High School in Grandview, Wash., this fall, said that the institute made a big impact on his career goals.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, but now I know I want to be an engineer,” he said. “I never really considered it before, but now it seems like it’s pretty fun to be an electrical engineer.”
RISE UP GEAR UP is aimed to increase the percentage of middle and high school students taking rigorous and challenging STEM courses. It is an expansion of OMA&D’s GEAR UP grant that offers college readiness programs for low-income students in 14 school districts in Eastern Washington and the Skagit Valley.
Additional campus partners for the Early Engineering Institute included Aeronautics & Astronautics, Bioengineering, Center for Nanotechology, Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, UW EcoCAR 2, College of Engineering Dean’s Office and Student Academic Services.
The Early Engineering Institute was a condensed version of the College of Engineering’s Math Academy that hosts high school juniors for four weeks in July.
Photos by Erin Rowley