Getting hands-on with engineering

Students explored engineering disciplines through hands-on projects taught remotely by six faculty members from across the Fulton Schools. Each session helped participants learn about opportunities available in specific areas of engineering:

"It can be challenging to make an online format engaging, but the Fulton Schools faculty members put together some really excellent activities,” Loughman said. “All participants were shipped a maker's kit containing the supplies needed for their hands-on activities."

Boyer’s project — a camp favorite — introduced the lesser-known discipline of environmental engineering. Students were encouraged to collect a water source from an area around their homes, or create their own dirty water source, which they then learned to purify.

“That project highlighted a whole realm of engineering related to agriculture and water applications,” which were familiar to many of the migrant students, Loughman said.

“I loved the hands-on activities we were able to participate in despite being in a virtual environment," said Kavya, a senior at Centennial High School who participated in one of the SEE@ASU camps targeted to local high school students. "Experiments are my favorite part of learning, so these activities really helped me to understand each individual engineering discipline.”

The students also worked on a weeklong group project during the camp. The students were tasked with a challenge unique to their own experiences: using engineering to develop a solution that would help people in the migrant community.

“They all had different ideas — things around language use, physical labor, learning models and navigating the internet,” Szkupinski Quiroga said. “It was exciting to see how the Fulton Schools approach to engineering is not something far removed from their lives. They can see issues in their communities and in their parents’ work lives and how engineering can solve those things.”

More than a fun week

In addition to learning about engineering, the purpose of SEE@ASU is to demystify the pathway to and experience of college. SEE@ASU participants also get their application fee waived if they apply to ASU. Current engineering undergraduate majors and non-STEM majors were on hand to talk to the high schoolers as near peers in candid question-and-answer sessions.

During the camp, migrant students worked with counselors who had participated in the ASU CAMP Scholars program, many of whom are engineering majors and all of whom are also migrant students.

“It made a difference to have someone close to their age to serve as role models who come from the same community and are now at ASU,” Szkupinski Quiroga said. “They could talk about what it’s like deciding to leave home” and also see how ASU is welcoming to migrant students like them.

The Migratory Student Summer Academy also provided arts and cultural opportunities on weekends, bookending the SEE@ASU camp with a curriculum designed by Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts graduate students to foster the students’ leadership skills.

“For someone to be the first one in their family to leave the rural community, to make that decision to go to ASU, you need to have that leadership potential,” Szkupinski Quiroga said.

With the inaugural academy and camp collaboration complete, Loughman said she and her team hope to be able to invite migrant students in-person next year to gain the full benefit of experiencing life on a college campus.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering