Room 1502 of Patrick F. Taylor Hall hummed with youthful excitement as teams of three went head to head in the annual design project competition featured at the end of each REHAMS Residential Camp.
REHAMS, which stands for Recruiting into Engineering High-Ability Multicultural Students, was held June 12 -18 and hosted its largest number of participants in recent years. The camp offered 47 high school students the opportunity to create, experiment, build, code, design and compete in a variety of engineering and college prep activities under the guidance of 14 student counselors, staff and faculty members of LSU’s College of Engineering.
Andy Osborn, Recruiting and Outreach Manager for the College and the primary coordinator for the camp, said his main goal was to “continue the camp’s long tradition of engineering outreach to a group of diverse, high-achieving students.”
The young scholars had a packed schedule of tours, learning activities and lectures that included a challenge course at the LSU’s University Recreation center, a visit to Shell’s Geismar facility and quick introductions to disciplines like petroleum engineering and computer science.
This year’s camp featured a lecture series entitled “Engineering 101,” an event that offered campers unprecedented insight into the practical world of engineering.
Mechanical engineering graduate student Sean King said he prioritized design over the more technical facets of engineering for his presentation.
“The students were very receptive of digging more into the design aspect of the field, and everything was largely interactive,” King said. “I’d say that 90 percent of the room really got involved and participated.”
During the week, the teams of campers were able to complete a series of challenges centered on the use of Boe-bots, or “Board of Education” robots.
These robots are used for introductory robotics programs nationwide, Osborn explained, and the campers gained a lot from their use throughout the week of challenges and the final design competition.
“With the Boe-bots, students are given a base kit to build the robot. Then, they are responsible for programming it as necessary to respond to the coding that they build that connects the robot to a remote control app that is downloaded to a phone or mobile device,” Osborn said.
During the final design competition, the students’ robots were tasked with completing a series of challenges, such as navigating a narrow bridge system, removing a single block from a Jenga tower, operating a pulley and even bowling.
Mechanical engineering senior Taron Graham and computer engineering senior Daniel Miles were both repeat counselors and former attendees of REHAMS.
“I still remember my counselor from when I was a camper, and I’ve pretty much been involved with REHAMS every year I’ve been here at LSU,” Graham said. “I just wanted to give back, and this is one of the best ways.”
Miles shared similar sentiments and said, “It is nice to inspire students in the same way that I was inspired. It’s fun for me because all of this is in my field.”
“When I attended REHAMS as a high school student, it really helped me figure out which discipline I wanted to be in. I knew I wanted it to be something in technology,” he continued. “My experience in REHAMS solidified that for me.”
Recent campers and teammates Tyler Wilson and Adam Poche, both of New Orleans, and Madison Terro, of Rayne, Louisiana, agreed that REHAMS gave them a better understanding of what they wanted to do in the field of engineering.
Poche, who will be a sophomore at Lusher Charter School this fall, said he is “most interested in computer science and engineering right now,” and plans to further explore the discipline. Terro, a rising senior at Notre Dame High School, said she enjoyed every activity, meeting new people and “wished the camp was a week longer.”
Her fellow teammates joked that maybe a week was a bit too long, but did understand the desire to have a bit more time on a college campus with new friends.
When Osborn was told that the campers wanted to have a few more days added to REHAMS, he chuckled but said he understood where they were coming from.
“I was very impressed with the quality of students,” Osborn said. “Especially with how close they became with each other. I truly believe some of these students made lasting relationships with one another that will go on into the future.”
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