April 21, 2008

Engineering day camp set for middle-schoolers

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Future engineers will have a chance to work on real-world problems during a day camp planned for students this summer at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The SIUC College of Engineering day camp is a three-day program aimed at students in grades six through eight. It features University faculty and students teaching engineering lessons though hands-on experiments, demonstrations and lectures.

This year marks the first time SIUC has offered the program to middle school students, rather than high school students, during the summer break. The program seeks to spark an interest in engineering among students who will become the next generation of engineers.

"The shift is partly in response to documented information from the National Science Foundation, which emphasizes the need to attract youngsters early so that they get interested in science and engineering careers later on," said Ramanarayanan Viswanathan, interim dean of the College of Engineering at SIUC. "In the future, we hope such camps could be useful in attracting more students to engineering."

The program, set for June 24-26 at the Engineering Building on the SIUC campus, costs $100. Single-day participation also is available for $35 per day.

Participants will work with interesting problems and projects, such as a hovercraft construction and race and the famous "Saluki Egg Drop," which requires the young engineers to construct a device that will prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a certain height.

Students also will participate in rocket launch competition, paper airplane design, the "Royal House Flush" and Lego building projects.

"The engineering experiments will be designed with the youngsters in mind," Viswanathan said. "I believe the area students in Southern Illinois could benefit from such an exposure."

The registration and fee payment deadline for the program is June 1. Enrollment is limited and organizers will fill slots on a first-come, first-serve basis. Organizers encourage early enrollment, with payment made by June 1.

Participants must submit an academic medical release form to the College of Engineering.

To enroll or receive more information, contact Julie Eisenhauer, at 618/453-7992 or eisenhauer@engr.siu.edu.