The objective of our program is to make participating students aware of careers and opportunities in engineering through hands-on design projects, seminars with real engineers, and problem solving. To address the lack of engineering in K-12 education, students will take what they gained from the academy back to their math and science classes during the school year.

eeStudents will be encouraged to participate as mentors in subsequent academies, as teaching often deepens understanding. In addition, high school teachers will receive training and assist the investigators with the academy’s classroom activities. The investigators will support the teachers in including academy exercises in the teachers’ classroom during the school year.

The table below shows the schedule for the 5-day summer academy.

The first two days include activities that familiarize students with basic concepts in electrical and mechanical engineering that will be built upon as the week progresses. Students will be divided into small groups and the groups rotated through several stations in these activities. Past experience has shown that the students get more interaction with the faculty and staff, are much more likely to ask questions when encountering problems, and are more successful in this setting.

8:30a-12p Intro Communication Activities EE/ME Project - Machining/Soldering
12p–1p Lunch Lunch
1p-4p EE/ME Electrical Circuits/Solid Works Design EE/ME Project - Sensors/Gauges
4 PM Adjourn Adjourn

8:30a-12p ME Project - Vehicle Design Integrative Activity -
Tractor Pull Challenge
Autonomous Robot Construction
Professional skills workshop
12p–1p Lunch Lunch Presentations
1p-4p Engineering careers/ethics
Robot competition
Integrative Activity -
Robot Testing and Programming
4 PM Adjourn Adjourn  

Introductory Session: Students participate in a series of challenges that focus on basic skills of communication, group cooperation, and engineering problem solving. The activities also serve to help the students get to know each other and find who they work with the best.

Electrical Circuits: Students will explore basic electrical circuit concepts such as Ohm’s law and Kirchoff’s voltage law through experimentation and measurement. Students will measure resistor values, calculate what voltages should appear in a series of resistors, and confirm calculations through measurement. Tolerance and error are also investigated.

Solid Works Design: Students will learn how to use the Solid Works program to design a small bracket needed for the autonomous car built later in the academy. The students will be guided in this activity through interactive instruction facilities, and then create a file for directing an automated drilling machine on Tuesday.

Small Groups Projects: Students in small groups will engage in several activities that support the construction of their autonomous cars and designs for the later tractor pull challenge. Students will learn to solder by soldering components onto the electronic controllers for the cars. Students will construct an optical sensor circuit to understand how the car sensors operate, and design other uses for the circuit including an alarm. Students will machine brackets for their cars and experiment with strain gages and the Wheatstone bridge circuit used with the gages. The gages will be attached to an aluminum flat and students will measure the output voltage as strain is added. A spreadsheet is used to determine the calibration data for the later tractor pull design.