TryEngineering Summer Camps Empower Engineers of the Future

Students worked on such hands-on projects as creating smart cars and building bridges out of spaghetti

11 September 2018

For those who are considering a career in engineering or are just curious about the field, it can oftentimes be difficult to understand what engineers actually do. The IEEE TryEngineering Summer Camps program aims to provide students with that knowledge through hands-on projects.

The camps were held at three U.S. colleges: the University of California, Riverside; Texas A&M University; and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, in New York City. A total of 85 students attended the two-week sessions, held in July. Students in Grades 8 to 12 had the opportunity to build smart cars, erect bridges made from spaghetti, design drones, and compete in rocket challenges.

“I can’t stress enough what a blessing that camp was for him,” one camper’s parent says. “The camp director was amazing, and your staff there was so good to him. The experience really boosted his confidence. Now he is actually excited about engineering and looking forward to going to college.”

The students went on field trips—to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas; LaGuardia Airport and a Con Edison power plant in New York; and the Aerospace Corp. in California.

According to one camper, the field trips and activities made the experience much more entertaining. She says she loved being able to meet Norman Chaffee, a NASA propulsion engineer with more than 50 years of experience in the aerospace industry.

“Mr. Chaffee gave me an understanding of what a mechanical engineer can do for NASA and in the aerospace field in general,” she says. “I saw his passion as he went into details about his experience on the Apollo mission. He made me realize that I also have a strong passion in mechanical engineering and I too will find the field I want to pursue.”

TryEngineering awarded scholarships to 15 students who otherwise would not be able to afford a summer camp. Five IEEE societies supplied the scholarship funds: Broadcast Technology, Electronics Packaging, Industry Applications, Power Electronics, and Solid-State Circuits.

“This camp was life-changing because I made so many new friends and got to understand how to solder, 3D-design, and build drones. But most of all, I got to meet and stay in contact with all of the campers,” one of the scholarship recipients says. “I am so grateful that IEEE gave me this opportunity to attend such an amazing program.”

Planning is underway for next year’s camps.

Grace Dille is a contributing writer.

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