After a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at this year’s IEEE TryEngineering Summer Institute grew more than 100 percent compared with 2020, with 314 students attending.
First offered in 2018, the summer camp program gives teens an opportunity to explore a variety of engineering disciplines through hands-on design challenges, field trips, industry speakers, and more. Held on university campuses across the United States, the experience also helps them stand out in an increasingly competitive college-acceptance environment. A valuable part of the camp experience, the residential component, allows students to see what it’s like to live on a college campus while building a sense of independence.
This year, the TryEngineering Summer Institute was held on four campuses: Rice University, in Houston; the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia; the University of San Diego; and Vaughn College, in New York City.
The first of two sessions held at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the new camp locations, sold out well before the enrollment deadline.
“Seeing success in 2022 was rewarding, especially after the frustration of COVID-19, which did not allow us to conduct activities in 2020 and 2021,” says Jamie Moesch, managing director of IEEE Educational Activities, which oversees the summer program. “It was great to see the students interacting in person and having a ton of fun with their instructors, residential advisors, and each other. A number of parents said they were very happy to be able to get their children more direct, face-to-face learning opportunities.”
“In these difficult times of COVID, it was an incredible learning experience for my daughter,” one parent wrote. “The coordinators were very kind and went the extra mile to achieve a healthy and quality environment for her.”
Field trips to Boeing, Qualcomm, and a space center
One aspect that received high satisfaction marks from students was the field trips. This year’s behind-the-scenes tours included Boeing, Leonardo Helicopters, LaGuardia Airport, Space Center Houston, and Qualcomm.
Highlights from the tours included meeting two longtime NASA engineers and touring the Apollo Mission Control facility. The teens also learned how engineers ensure the success of operations at LaGuardia, and they visited helicopter assembly lines and witnessed several flight tests at Leonardo Helicopters.
In addition, they learned about 5G technology, Wi-Fi, and artificial intelligence from engineers developing new applications. Meeting practicing engineers and getting a firsthand look at their jobs gives students a great idea of what their future could hold in a STEM career.
“I loved everything about the camp, from the classes to the activities to the great people I met. Thanks to the camp, I’ve been able to come to the conclusion that I want to be an engineer.”
Donations to the IEEE Educational Activities Scholarship Fund hosted by the IEEE Foundation from IEEE volunteers, members, and societies made the program a success. Thanks to their generosity, 30 students were able to attend the summer institute tuition-free.
“I can’t describe how grateful I am for the scholarship,” says one of the recipients who attended the program at Rice. “I loved everything about the camp, from the classes to the activities to the great people I met. Thanks to the camp, I’ve been able to come to the conclusion that I want to be an engineer.”
“The scholarships are an incredibly important part of the IEEE TryEngineering Summer Institute, which ties directly to our IEEE mission,” Moesch says. “The generosity of many people and groups from across IEEE allowed us to offer an amazing two-week educational life experience to many under-resourced students. We aim to grow this aspect of the program even more in the future.”
Hands-on projects on aerospace, civil, and electrical engineering
To give students a greater chance of discovering which engineering field is right for them, the TryEngineering Summer Institute team intentionally designs the curriculum with daily hands-on course work that touches on a number of disciplines including electrical, mechanical, civil, aerospace, chemical, computer, and design.
Engineering education specialists review the curriculum and update projects every year based on student and instructor feedback. The result is a curriculum that engages and inspires students, opening up a world of career possibilities in engineering.
One student reports particularly enjoying “the opportunity to visualize several types of engineering—which helped show me the different paths that I could take in the future.” Another says he “cannot wait to continue to pursue the field of electrical engineering.”
Stay updated on the TryEngineering Summer Institute, and help us inspire the next generation of engineers. Contact Dawna Schultz or IEEE Educational Activities to get involved in preuniversity programs.