Engineering camp brings youth to classrooms

July 20, 2017
Explore Engineering Camp
Explore Engineering Camp
Explore Engineering Camp

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science hosted 108 high school students during two week-long Explore Engineering Summer Program (EESP) sessions. The high school students spent the week taking classes and learning about several different engineering fields: civil, electrical, engineering physics, environmental, industrial, mechanical, software, and sustainable and renewable energy systems. The high school students came from public and private schools all around Southwest Wisconsin and the tri-state region. 

The program involved hands-on projects taught by 12 College of EMS faculty while featuring the same curriculum and instruction that current UW-Platteville students experience in the Intro to Engineering Projects course. The high school students who successfully completed the program earned one college credit.

EESP Coordinator Jaclyn Esqueda says many of the high school students know they want to pursue some type of engineering, and this program is a way to “give them accurate information through hands-on learning to develop some background knowledge in each field.” The program centered on exploring the engineering disciplines, and also emphasized the importance of interacting with likeminded peers and building the teamwork element.

In addition to the high school students and faculty participants, EESP had assistance from nine current College of EMS students. These students acted as either mentors for the high schoolers outside the classroom or module assistants within the classroom.

One of the EMS student staff, Kylie Greenheck, attended the camp when she was a high school student. The experience she gained as a participant impacted her perspective as a mentor throughout the last few years. Greenheck says she “enjoyed having the opportunity to help campers explore the many engineering options and answering questions about UW-Platteville and college in general.”

The EMS students involved in the camp were able to embrace their passion for STEM disciplines and UW-Platteville while contributing to the future generations of Pioneers. This program also gave the EMS students practice relaying technical information and communicating in different ways. Esqueda says the EMS students who work in these roles “are interested in working with youth, giving back, and they have a desire to build their leadership skills,” which is how she knew they would be a good fit for the program.

The EMS faculty members who taught throughout the camp sessions gained an opportunity to give back and participate in the recruitment process. This camp also allowed faculty members to see what engineering capabilities the next generation has. The faculty exposed students to the different jobs each discipline relates to and explained the types of courses each track would typically take. Greenheck says the faculty involved were outstanding because “it was clear that they thoroughly enjoy teaching students.”

This year’s program incorporated a few new elements.  For example, Esqueda wanted to create a summative experience by having the students host a poster session on the last day of the program. The students created posters summarizing and reflecting on their experiences throughout the week. The students presented their posters to their parents and guests. Also, on Friday morning each week the students selected an additional module to attend within STEM, not just engineering. Students could choose from chemistry, math, nanotechnology, or microfluidics. This option allowed the high school and college students to better explore the ways engineering connects with other STEM disciplines.

EESP will continue next summer, and Esqueda’s goal is to continue building partnerships with schools and community youth organizations to recruit and provide scholarships for participants.

Ultimately, the camp leaves a positive impact on those involved. Greenheck says her experience with EESP as a high school student left her feeling like “[she] knew exactly what [she] wanted to do upon graduation” and that the camp was the main influence on why she chose to attend UW-Platteville. Esqueda says, “It’s inspiring to see so many students excited to engage in and explore the engineering fields.”

Written by: Kelsey Bigelow, Writer, College of EMS, 608-342-6153,


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