By Lisa Romero, BIO5 Institute
UA Academy Trains Future Engineers
The academy is held in weekly sessions with students living on campus as they learn about careers, areas of study and campus life from student leaders and UA faculty members.
Getting high schoolers from Arizona and beyond interested in earning an engineering degree is a priority at the University of Arizona College of Engineering.
The effort takes place throughout the year, but now through June 22 the college intensifies its commitment during its Summer Engineering Academy, a week-long residential camp for students in grades 9 through 12.
The academy allows students to explore potential careers while learning engineering fundamentals from UA professors or graduate students from the 13 engineering majors within the college.
The students sleep in UA residential halls and traverse the campus during the day, touring labs and taking on a variety of projects including modeling and design fundamentals while learning computer-aided design software.
They also learn the basics of electronics and civil engineering structure testing methodology. Optical sciences and engineering teach the students 3-D design methodology, and from material science and engineering, they learn the ancient techniques used for making glass and glaze for pottery.
UA engineering majors – who are only a few years out of high school themselves – work as peer-mentor counselors and help to create a network of resources that will aid the future engineers in their transition from high school to university.
Honors student Matt Ware, an electrical engineer and computer engineering sophomore, is a peer-mentor counselor during this year's academy. He always knew he wanted to be an engineer, and deciding which university to apply to was easy once he participated in the UA Summer Engineering Academy.
"I was sold on the UA once the peer-mentor counselors at the camp told me about the UA engineering clubs. I thought as club member, participation was limited to going to meetings and not much else. But the responsibilities you hold in the clubs, even as a freshmen, is an amazing experience," he said.
As an active participant in the UA Baja Racing Club, Ware and his teammates design, build, market and race single-seat off-road vehicles. Ware specifically works on the design of the steering, suspension and braking system for the team using the software he initially learned as a Summer Engineering Academy student.
Ted Gatchell, coordinator for recruitment, retention and outreach at the College of Engineering, is in his first year of organizing the academy and said, "All faculty within the College of Engineering have gone above and beyond to show students in the academy the multifaceted aspects and applicability of engineering principals and careers."
The academy originally was scheduled to host three sessions, but it has gained such popularity that Gatchell has opened two more sessions.
"We have been successful targeting students from out of state as well as in-state high schools, but we are also really pleased with the successful efforts to recruit women into the academy," Gatchell said.
The academy costs $485 and there is a $10 nonrefundable application fee. Need-based scholarships are available that help cover most of the cost of the camp.