Building the foundation: Summer programs inspire youth to choose engineering
For the third year in a row, engineering summer camps continued to inspire elementary and high school students from across the province to consider a career in engineering.
The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science runs three programs each summer – Junior Robotics/Engineers, ArcticENGINEER Enrichment Program and Girl Quest. Participants build and program robots, design bridges and rockets, conduct fields tests for salinity levels and temperature and learn about ice surveillance technology. Kathryn Hong is the co-ordinator of outreach activities in the faculty and of the summer programs.
“The main goal is to increase awareness of engineering programs in youth and to de-mystify the profession and the career paths that it can lead to,” she said. “Some students are intimidated by engineering. They attend one of our summer programs and gain a sense of what engineers do which helps them to envision their future as an engineer and expel some of the unknowns of what engineering is.”
The Robotics/Junior Engineers program is designed for boys and girls between the ages of nine and 12. Participants spend part of the week working with LEGO Mindstorm robot kits. They learn programming skills and build their very own robot to do specific challenges. The other part of the week is centred on core and basic engineering properties, which involves building copper-coiled boats and paper-based rockets. The students learn about aerodynamics and bridge building and how to use simple machines.
The focus of the ArcticENGINEER Enrichment Program, funded by the Research & Development Corporation (RDC) through its ArcticTECH Program, is to encourage high school students to consider a career in engineering related to the Arctic.
“The participants of the ArcticENGINEER program learn about research, development and conservation in harsh environments,” said Ms. Hong. “They learn about personal safety devices, structures used for ships and a lot about the challenges that the Arctic region presents. Many aspects of engineering come into play.”
Girl Quest is funded by the Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC). The goal of the program is to increase diversity in engineering by introducing young girls to the role of engineers in society in hopes that they will be able to envision themselves in some of these roles.
“The goal of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and for HMDC is to encourage more young girls to consider a career in engineering,” said Ms. Hong. “Allowing them to see the positive impact that engineers have in society is very important when considering their future plans.”
All three programs are critically important to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. The faculty works very hard to create engineering awareness in youth and to also increase diversity. Andy Fisher is the faculty’s associate dean of undergraduate studies and he is proud of the summer programs and the impact that they have had on youth in the province.
“As a faculty, it is important for us to create an awareness about a career in engineering at an early age,” he said. “Engineering is hard work but it’s exciting and engaging. It’s rewarding to see the students having a lot of fun and meeting new friends while learning about engineering.”
The faculty acknowledges and thanks its many partners: HMDC, RDC, Marine Institute, C_CORE, National Research Centre, Provincial Aerospace, Engineers Without Borders, Engineering Student Society and Memorial’s physics department.