A group of Arkansas high school students selected for their grades, aptitude, and teacher recommendations checked into a UALR residence hall Sunday, June 17, to spend a week exploring the life of an engineering undergraduate.
The 75 students selected for the free, week-long summer camps are part of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) outreach to target bright Arkansas students and stimulate their interest in economically vital subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math, commonly known collectively as STEM.
EIT’s Engineering Scholars Program offers a week of college campus living and hands-on experience in top-line laboratories working with professors and industry professionals.
“Getting students energized about engineering and technology is critical to developing the passion and commitment it requires to pursue these challenging fields in college,” said Dr. Eric Sandgren, EIT dean. “Our summer programs have been successful in inspiring students to major in science, technology, engineering, or math in college.”
The students will spend the week working with professors learning about systems engineering, robotics, computer security, civil and construction engineering, telecommunications engineering, and more.
During the week, they will build robots and scale-model bridges for end-of-the week competitions and will spend time in the computer-aided design (CAD) lab, fluids lab, robotics lab, and telecom lab. They also will hear from industry scientists and engineers, and each group will visit one area production facility: Caterpillar in North Little Rock, Cameron in Little Rock, and Molex in Maumelle.
Cameron and Molex actively recruit EIT students as interns and graduates as full-time employees. The Caterpillar plant opened in 2010, creating 600 jobs. It was the kind of investment the UALR college was designed to attract when it was founded in 1999. To keep the state’s economic engine growing, universities are committed to recruiting and graduating more scientists and engineers.
Vernard W. Henley, director of recruitment and outreach for EIT, said more than 67 percent of the high school students who have participated in the Engineering Scholars Program elected to pursue STEM fields of study.
“Of that group, an overwhelming majority – 73.6 percent – elected to pursue engineering degrees,” Henley said. “Of those, 64 percent are attending college in Arkansas.”