Celebrating 40 years, the Minority Engineering Advancement Program has inspired hundreds of students to pursue engineering and other fields in technology, science and mathematics. The annual IUPUI summer camp leads young students to perform better in high school, creating momentum that could carry them into college and then into a career.
"We want the projects we look for with MEAP to encompass as many areas of engineering and technology as possible," said Patrick Gee, program director and IUPUI engineering lecturer. "Students today are getting various programs at their high school or middle school, but we want to make sure STEM is not overlooked. … We want to make sure the seed is planted for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- academic paths and career paths, especially for those opportunities here at IUPUI."
The high school camp ran June 19-23, while 30 middle school students learned in-depth engineering June 26-30.
Leading up to the cracking finale, the boys and girls bonded during lab experiments led by IUPUI engineering graduate students. Ebrahim Feyz's fire tornado experiment wowed the students when he burned alcohol to create flame. Using plastic tubing around the fire, he showed the natural movement of heat molecules wanting to rise. During the journey up, the molecules spin and twist, causing the tornado effect thanks to the enclosed, tubular space.
Conversely, graduate student Joseph Derrick manned a water tunnel machine to demonstrate fluid dynamics. Derrick's lab uses red dye to illustrate inertia, velocity and viscosity. The concepts help form the basis of mechanical engineering, which continues to improve industries from aerospace to automobile.
The students then took the concepts learned to build plastic straw towers 16 to 18 inches tall. The towers had to be strong enough to hold paper cups with small weights in them. Tesfa Seyoum was part of the winning team that had the strongest tower.
"This helps me learn more about what engineering's like and how it is to be in the life of a college student," said Seyoum, a Minority Engineering Advancement Program camper and a sophomore at Center Grove High School. "I really want to be an engineer when I grow up. Since I was little, I've always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. I always liked electronics, too, and I've always wanted to be the person to make them and give them to everybody."
Several camp alumni visited as guests or parents of the campers. Some student camp counselors were alumni as well. Jasmine Moody remembered her time in the program just a few years ago as she made sure her teenage campers were safe, fed and learning throughout the week.
Now a senior in mechanical engineering, Moody knew she wanted to pursue engineering, but she didn’t know which concentration to choose. She tried electrical first before finding a better fit in mechanical. Her time in the Minority Engineering Advancement Program made her future career clearer.
"It gives students an introduction to each sector," Moody said. "It's definitely fun to be in this spot because I was in their shoes once. It's been fun to see them learn different aspects of engineering.
"We're just molding young engineers."