Classrooms within local schools may be empty for next month, but many of Cedar City's high school students have beat the summertime brain drain by exploring a wide variety of academic and career opportunities within engineering alongside SUU's engineering professors, who organized the University's inaugural Engineering, Computer Science & Technology Summer Camp for students across the region.
Like most of this year's campers, Sierra Anderson, a junior from Dixie's SUCCESS Academy, had her first hands-on engineering experience during this summer's camp, providing was a “major confidence booster” in both her education and future goals.
“I love programming, and this camp gave me the opportunity to actually create an application," said Anderson. "I think I want to do this as a career now.”
Anderson's heightened confidence within the field following increased exposure, according to Glen Longhurst, chair of SUU's Department of Integrated Engineering Longhurst, is not surprising. “Many young students see engineering as a scary topic but this camp opens them up to the idea that it is possible to not only go to college but have a successful career as an engineer.”
Each student in attendance at the camp held earlier this summer chose a specific field of engineering—computer science, electronic engineering, integrated engineering and construction engineering—to focus on during the three-day camp. They then designed projects and heard from motivational speakers with preference to each student's area of interest.
Camp projects ranged from computer science students who designed apps for Android phones to electronic engineering students who created a solar-powered generator. The integrated engineering students studied the fundamentals of catapults in a competition to create a catapult with the farthest reach, and construction engineering students learned how to work with cement, which they then sculpted to create life-like shrubbery. All students in attendance heard from local engineers and computer scientists and took a field trip to the Tonaquint Data Center in St. George, Utah.
"The speakers were fabulous and so were the classes," said Anderson of her summer science experience. “This was an amazing camp. Everything was interesting and fun. Everything was a party.”
Longhurst and other camp administrators count this year's initial camp as a big success and will now move forward with plans to expand the SUU Engineering, Computer Science & Technology Summer Camp options for next year.