High school students experience Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON – Summer Youth Programs have begun at Michigan Technological University. Beginning on Sunday, 150 high school-aged girls from across the country came to Michigan Tech to experience a week of engineering during the Women in Engineering Program.

“They’re here for a week of hands-on, intensive engineering learning. They’re here to learn more about what engineering is all about and learn more about which area of engineering they might want to pursue,” said Cody Kangas, associate director at the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Tech.

The 150 participants come from across the country, and this year there is even an international participant from Bahrain. Their average GPA, Kangas said, is a 3.9 and each receives a $1,000 scholarship from Michigan Tech.

“Starting back in January we started getting these applications and they were just amazing,” said Lexie Maday, student coordinator at the Center for Pre-College Outreach. “They all had 3.5 (GPAs) and above. When I got one that was a 3.5 that was on the lower end of the GPA. They were really amazing to work with.”

Participants are spending the week exploring different engineering disciplines, including mechanical, environmental, computer, electrical, biomedical and civil engineering. They participate in sessions led by Michigan Tech faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students, but they are not just hearing lectures.

“It’s all about discovery-based learning. They’re not getting lectured to when they’re here,” Kangas said. “They’re active, they’re getting their hands dirty, they’re going out to McLain State Park, going out to the breakers, they’re exploringIt’s a very fun, innovative program and it’s very intentional. We have every minute of their time here planned. We make a point to be deliberate and assertive with what they are getting out of this week.”

The hands-on exposure to different engineering disciplines could help participants decide which to pursue in college. Elizabeth Zeck from Millington, Michigan, who is going into her junior year of high school, said she has thought about going into engineering before but her experience at Women in Engineering has shown her some different options.

“I thought about engineering a little before this. My mom was an engineer, now she’s a teacher,” she said. “So it has crossed my mind. Now that I’ve gone here and seen how cool it is, I definitely want to do some kind of engineering. I just have to pick which one.”

In addition to their academic experiences, the participants are getting the opportunity to learn about life at Michigan Tech and in the community. Approximately 20 percent of participants return to Michigan Tech as undergraduate students, Kangas said, with a total of 20 to 30 per year. At a “Tech Expo” Wednesday, they were introduced to different campus and community organizations to learn more about what life at Michigan Tech might be like.

“This is basically an hour set aside for them to learn more about Michigan Tech and introduce them to more than just the academic component. We’ve got student organizations, we’ve got department chairs, we’ve got community organizations, we have representatives from everywhere that are here to talk to these ladies about what they do have to offer if they come to Michigan Tech,” Kangas said.