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July 4, 2017 > Engineering for kids at unique summer camp

Engineering for kids at unique summer camp

Submitted By Kimberly Hawkins

For most students, summer means time off from structured learning, but for dozens of high school students from Contra Costa County, this year it means taking advantage of an opportunity to learn more about robotics and design.

The week-long Discover E camp at Cal State East Bay begins July 24. It is designed to introduce 72 students from low income communities to engineering and inspire them to go to college. It is part of a program called Project Lead the Way, sponsored by Chevron.

Cal State East Bay faculty and graduate students along with 13 teachers from Contra Costa County schools will teach the kids the fundamentals of engineering. Students will then work in teams to program a robot, and design and build a bridge from balsa wood. Once completed, each team will test the functionality and strength of their creation in a competition.

The camp is the culmination of a year-long experience that started with Cal State East bay student ambassadors visiting the high schools, mid-year visits to campus and interaction between the students and teachers.

ÒMy number one goal is to have them motivated and interested in engineering as a whole,Ó said Farzad Shahbodaghlou, director of the construction management program at CSUEB. ÒMy number two goal is to convince them that college is an option, regardless of what your financial situation is. And then, get them interested in engineering school and our program here, because I know that we can take good care of them and give them a career with their degree.Ó

This is the third year Cal State East Bay has hosted the program which continues to grow. There will be two off site field trips and an evening with engineering professionals from different fields during which the students can ask questions about the profession.

ÒWhat is unique about Discover E, is that it offers a holistic experience, where participants can feel what life could be as a university student,Ó said Cristi‡n Gaedicke, assistant professor of engineering. ÒThey stay in the dorms, work in teams, solve challenging engineering problems, visit engineering sites, and enhance their written and oral skills. The camp also provides the tools to make this a reality, by providing information about the university application process and financial aid.Ó

According to Shahbodaghlou, more than half of the students would be the first in their family to attend college.

ÒMost of them donÕt have a role model engineer in their family ... they may not even know what engineering is,Ó he said.

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