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Engineering Camp Leads Students to Explore New Ideas

Jeannine Huenemann


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Students building drones at Engineering Camp.
Students worked in the engineering idea lab to build and modify drones before flying them
Students gathering stream data at Engineering Camp
Other students measured stream depth and flow data in Logan Canyon
Engineering Camp students present their findings on the final day of camp
The poster session gave students a chance to talk about what they learned with faculty and staff

Fifty high school students from schools across Utah came to Logan for a five-day camp on July 8 – 12. Engineering Camp brings high school students and their teachers together to explore engineering topics with professors, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff at Utah State University. This year, students assessed water quality samples, measured stream water depth and flow, examined air quality, and flew drones.

After a brief introduction to each engineering area, students worked in small groups to build Seaperch, underwater remotely operated vehicles (UROVs), to view and sample water. Applying what they learned, they did field studies, both indoors and outside, using university laboratories and equipment. The groups split into four areas, each getting a chance to use their remote-controlled submarines at Logan River First Dam Park. Another group at the park used lab equipment to gather stream data. The two remaining groups stayed on campus to learn about air quality, and how and why drones are useful.

“I like that we are always going, doing something different, it’s not like there’s one focus of the camp,” said one Logan High School student. “There’s like a bunch of different things that we get to learn about.” This year, 40 percent of the students at camp were female. During the drone training, they learned that women see colors better, which is valuable in viewing drone images.

Learning the differences between broad areas of engineering is important. One young woman said, “It’s always kind of being something for me because I like math and I like art, and engineering is kind of where those things meet.” Another said “I want to go into engineering, and was originally interested in chemical engineering, but now interested in environmental engineering.”

On the fourth day of camp, students each chose an engineering area to do more in-depth studies. They formed new groups, met with faculty, staff, and students, developed a hypothesis, and did more research. Later in the evening, they worked to create posters explaining their research. These posters were presented the next morning in a session where students talked to faculty and staff about what they learned.

“A lot of these things, kind of, first sounded boring when they were explaining them, but everything I enjoyed, and it’s like, the more you get and the more you, like, assert yourself --- you have a better time doing it,” said one student. Engineering Camp also helped these students gain confidence. Another student said “I love engineering activities. I don’t know if it would be my first pick but now I know ‘I can do this.’”

This camp is collaboration between the USU STARS! GEAR UP program and the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Resources. For a more complete review of daily activities, visit the GEAR UP Engineering Camp blog, written and compiled by Murad Mahmoud, and an article, “GEAR UP Goes Wet,” by Traci Hillyard. Faculty members and professors involved in the program included Kurt Becker, Ryan Dupont, Abdelhaleem Khader, Max Longhurst, Randy Martin, and Nancy Mesner, as well as many other USU staff and students with experience in drones, air quality, watershed science, and environmental engineering.

Press: Utah State Today