Take Me to Camp
REHAMS Counselors Enjoy Mentoring
July 9, 2019
BATON ROUGE, LA – Each summer, dozens of rising 11th- and 12th-grade students flock to LSU’s REHAMS (Recruiting into Engineering High-Ability Multicultural Students) camp to learn about engineering for a week. However, they aren’t the only ones having fun.
The REHAMS counselors, comprised of LSU Engineering sophomores, juniors and seniors, not only teach what they know, but also relive the excitement of discovering engineering.
“Several of the counselors have participated in an LSU Engineering program as high school students or as incoming freshmen, so they know how impactful this program can be and are eager to give back,” said Sarah Jones, associate director of LSU’s College of Engineering Diversity Initiatives. “Their most important role is to be mentors and role models for the variety of high school students.”
One such counselor is Amoni McNair, an LSU Chemical Engineering senior from Baton
Rouge who attended REHAMS as a high school student
“When I was a camper, I enjoyed being able to get hands-on experience,” McNair said. “All the experiments were geared toward keeping us interested throughout the day. I also enjoyed meeting new friends. A lot of my REHAMS group came to LSU and majored in engineering, and I still keep in touch with them today. It was pretty nice for me as an out-of-state student to already have some friends coming to LSU.”
LSU Computer Science junior Casey Campbell of Atlanta, Ga., applied to be a REHAMS counselor because she not only enjoys mentoring, but thought it sounded like fun and would match her interests.
“As counselors, we oversee the students as they complete a design project,” she said. “There are three projects for the counselors to choose from—building a water wheel, Hot Wheels with time gates, or the hydraulic arm. I chose the Hot Wheels project for my group, because I love the programming aspect of it since I’m a CS major. In order to get the time gates on the track to work and register that the Hot Wheels cars were actually passing through them, there was some programming logic involved to make that work. While the students didn’t have to deal with the programming part of the project, my ability to understand how the software and hardware interfaces worked together made it easier to help the students actually build their track correctly.”
With 39 REHAMS campers in attendance this year, 10 counselors were chosen to each supervise a group of four students over a seven-day period while they completed one of the three projects. At the end of the week, the groups presented their projects to the other campers.
“I think the main thing my group learned was how to problem solve and why failure is important,” Campbell said. “You learn from failure. Just because engineers are super smart doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. My group’s project was unsuccessful, but I encouraged them to explain why they failed and how they could change what they had done in order to succeed.”
LSU Mechanical Engineering senior Paskah Andreas, a native of Bali, Indonesia, initially sought to become a REHAMS counselor as a way to keep herself busy during the summer but soon discovered a new reason.
“After seeing these high school students [work together], I really wanted them to join LSU’s Louisiana Engineering Society chapter,” she said.
Andreas said being a REHAMS counselor was a great experience and feels that high-schoolers interested in engineering should attend “because this camp really introduces them to campus life as an engineering student, which is what they really need before entering college life.”
The REHAMS camp—sponsored by Shell, Motiva, and Flour this year—“is a great experience for both the participants and the counselors,” Jones said.
The counselors hone their mentoring skills, as well as add the experience to their resume when the time comes to seek out a job.
“The counselors gain teaching experience by creating the design competition projects and coaching the student teams, develop leadership skills guiding the group through daily activities, and they also learn to create comradery among the campers,” Jones said. “Other benefits include expanding their network of industry contacts by participating in site visits and the industry lunch. By the time they have worked REHAMS, the counselors have experience that can be highlighted on their resume.
“Our donors are not only providing an experience for the campers, but also for our counselors.”
Though the number of counselor applications is usually greater than the number of counselor positions available, Jones says many of the LSU Engineering students find internships before the end of the spring semester. Counselors are interviewed and selected based on their experience and motivation.
To learn more about REHAMS, visit https://www.lsu.edu/eng/future/summer-camps/rehams.php.
Contact: Libby Haydel