REHAMS Camp Gives Multicultural Students Insight Into Engineering

High school students trying electronic gloveBATON ROUGE – More than 30 high school students recently took a week out of their summer vacation to build various design projects that included a water wheel, a mechanical hand and an oil-spill mechanism.

It was all part of the LSU College of Engineering’s REHAMS (Recruiting into Engineering High-Ability Multicultural Students) camp, an overnight event that gives multicultural high school students the opportunity to learn more about engineering from faculty, industry professionals, and camp counselors.

The camp was sponsored by ExxonMobil, Shell, Flour, Motiva and Rodney L. Porter, and was led by Sarah Jones, associate director of diversity initiatives in the college. She was assisted by Counselors Jasmin Richardson and Lawayla Golden, as well as a pair of graduate students.

Through REHAMS, students were able to visit different companies, meet with industry professionals, work on design projects, learn from College of Engineering faculty and explore different disciplines of engineering. They were even given time with a career coach to learn about professionalism in the workplace.

“I like how they gave a taste of every type of engineering discipline…they spread it out and [added] a little variety [to let you explore],” said Josh Wilson, a junior in high school from Lafayette, La.

That variety included visits to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company; the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), where students learned about river studies and environmental engineering; Shell; and the Electronic Arts (EA) Game Testing Center. While at these sites, students were able to see the kind of work they could be doing and meet the professionals who currently do it.

“I loved touring the Coca-Cola factory; I’m still wowed by that experience,” said Alexandra Lucas, a high school senior from San Antonio.

Students listening to presentation at EA buildingRon Bell, a senior in high school in Baton Rouge, was not particularly interested in engineering before attending the camp but came because his principal and teachers encouraged him. When asked, Bell mentioned how inspiring the camp was and that it made him seriously consider engineering as an option.

Many of the students attending became close with their counselors and peers. They may have initially struggled when working together as a team, but they were able to learn from that experience.

“I really like the people I am surrounded by; I am surrounded by people who have similar goals as me,” Bell said.

“[REHAMS gives students] hands-on experience with design projects, doing site visits to actual facilities where engineers work and putting into action what an engineer does,” Jones said. “They are able to engage with the faculty who explain the engineering disciplines. They build up a familiarity with their counselors and with each other by working on all these projects and doing all of these things they would not get to experience in a day camp,” Jones said.

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Olivia Blackstock

Communications Intern