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Annual Program Introduces Nation’s High School Students To Engineering

June 28, 2018
Students gather in lab space for experiment
ESP students participate in a lab demonstration in Assistant Professor Dilpuneet Aidhy's class, "Impact of Materials on Society."

Ever since hearing about the University of Wyoming’s Engineering Summer Program (ESP) from a friend, Austin Chandler was intrigued.

“I’ve always been interested in engineering,” says the 17-year-old from Powell, Wyo. “Even as a kid, I always liked to take things apart.”

Now Chandler has firsthand knowledge that he can share with others, as he and 35 other high school juniors attended ESP from June 17-23. The program, which takes place on the UW campus, helps develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

This year’s program featured the following classes, with faculty members: The Sustainable Built Environment (Civil and Architectural Engineering Assistant Professor Liping Wang); How Clean is the Air You Breathe? (Atmospheric Science Senior Research Scientist Robert Field); Computer Electronics (Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Steve Barrett); Computer Science (Computer Science Lecturer Allyson Anderson); Making Things with Electronics (Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Bob Kubichek); Impact of Materials on Society (Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Dilpuneet Aidhy); Energy Conversion and Analysis (Associate Lecturer Rob Erikson); and Architectural Engineering with Professor of Practice Matt Newman.

“We are thrilled to have hosted the 31st annual Engineering Summer Program,” CEAS K-14 Project Coordinator Teddi Freedman says. “We had an excellent group of participants who were thoughtful, engaged, and excited to broaden their horizons about the opportunities available to them in engineering.

“This program would not have been a success without the support of participants’ families, and our generous sponsors including the College of Engineering and Applied Science, Kester and Kennedy families, Union Wireless, Halliburton, and CPG Engineering. We look forward to again engaging students from across the state and country next year as our program continues to gain national attention.”

High-school junior Ashlyn Birmingham came to UW from Doylestown, Pa. Her brother toured UW’s campus a few years ago, and when she was seeking a summer program, ESP caught her eye. Her favorite courses covered topics in air quality and energy conversion.

“I was excited to travel to a new place, and excited to see the different types of engineering to get a better idea of what I want to do,” she says.

ESP’s structure included morning and afternoon learning sessions with hands-on activities, recreational opportunities in the evening and a daylong visit to the Halliburton facilities in Brighton, Colo.

Chandler’s parents are UW graduates and says he’s always felt a special bond with the university. Although it wasn’t his first visit to campus, it was the most in-depth look, showing off the dorms, the teaching facilities and outdoor spaces. His favorite ESP experience involved using arduinos, a small open-source platform for building electronic projects, to program and code.

“I really enjoyed experimenting with that and figuring out what they did,” Chandler says. “I’m very glad I was able to come and get this experience. It’s helped me look at new things.

“(The curriculum included) electrical engineering, computer engineering, biomedical engineering, computer science—there are so many options. It’s broadened my understanding of the word ‘engineering.’”

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