Forty high school students built underwater robots, toured local industries and learned about life as an engineer as part of the LSU College of Engineering’s Recruiting into Engineering High Ability Multicultural Students, or REHAMS, summer camp.
The camp, held June 14 through June 20, provided selected students a week of hands-on activities designed to further explore their interest in engineering, construction management and computer science, to build applicable skill sets and to learn from LSU faculty, students and industry professionals. It also gave participants the opportunity to live on campus and experience life as an LSU Tiger. This year, 27 boys and 13 girls from four states attended.
“Overall, I was very pleased with every component of the camp,” said Terrica Jamison, the College’s assistant recruitment manager and the camp organizer. "This was one of the most academically engaged and well-behaved student groups we’ve had in the last few years."
Among the many camp activities—which included a tour of the Shell refinery, a team-building exercise at the University Recreation Center ropes challenge course, a series of engineering-focused workshops and the like—one of the most popular events was the underwater robotics competition.
At the start of the camp, students learned about engineering design in a lesson taught by Eric Turgeau, a biology and robotics teacher at Walker High School. They were then divided into teams and provided conventional and nonconventional materials to construct the bots over the course of the week. (Think: everything from PVC pipe and battery packs to kitchen spatulas and fuzzy pipe cleaners). At the end of the week, the student teams created a poster outlining their design process, presented it before their peers and competed to see which team’s robots could successfully fetch pool rings and batons underwater.
“The competition was so amazing to the students,” Jamison said, “especially the ones who had never participated in a robotics competition.”
Another highlight, Jamison said, was watching the students explore the various fields of engineering and get excited about what they were learning. Some students discovered totally new interests and skills, she said, while others further pursued existing passions.
“During the civil engineering program, one of the labs they showed us had a driving simulator that allowed us to drive a real car in a virtual world,” said Katie Gonsoulin, a rising senior at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches. “After seeing the driving simulation, having the opportunity to interact with it and understanding how it collects data, I became really excited about potentially majoring in civil engineering or computer science.”
That excitement is the whole reason REHAMS exists, Jamison said, noting the camp is
the “first step in pursuing a thriving engineering career.”
“We wanted to make sure this was the best REHAMS camp ever,” she said. “From the feedback I’ve received from parents, professors and students, we succeeded.”
For more information about REHAMS, including eligibility requirements and application guidelines, visitwww.eng.lsu.edu/prospective/camps. For a gallery of photos from the camp, visit the College Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lsuengineering.