First Notre Dame Engineering summer camp for area high-school students

EIH camp participant group photo in front of Engineering Innovation Hub sign

Thirty area high-school students took part in Notre Dame Engineering’s first Engineering Exploration High School Camp, June 19-23. The day camp introduced rising 10-12 graders in the community to a broad range of engineering topics through hands-on activities.

“Our goal was to expose students to how to think like an engineer through the engineering design process,” said Enes Aydin, engineer in the Engineering Innovation Hub (EIH), which hosted the event.

“Students got an introduction to civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical, aerospace and computer engineering and learned what it takes to become an engineer.”

The EIH is an experiential learning space with resources for fabrication, automation, robotics and modeling on the first floor of Cushing-Fitzpatrick Halls of Engineering on Notre Dame’s campus.

EIH Camper using digital caliper to measure part of their RC car.
EIH Camper using digital caliper to measure part of their RC car.
EIH campers building a small catapult.
EIH camper using a smoke cannon to knock down a stack of red cups
EIH camper’s propellor driven vehicle gliding down a zipline
EIH campers preparing their zipline vehicle

The campers’ first activity was to assemble a remote-controlled car. They then imagined how their cars could be improved and used computer assisted design software (CAD) and 3D printers to design and fabricate new parts to make their cars faster, more stable, and more responsive. Other activities involved building miniature bridges (civil engineering); creating bubble tea’s chewy spheres (chemical engineering); constructing cardboard box air canons (mechanical engineering); and crafting parachutes capable of bringing fragile cargos — in this case, a raw egg — back to earth safely (aerospace engineering). Students also learned how to use calipers to measure small objects and chronometers to measure time.

Notre Dame faculty, staff and students served as camp instructors and administrators. Industry partners gave presentations on engineering jobs and answered campers’ questions.

“More than half of the high-school students participating in the camp have had no previous academic or practical exposure to engineering,” said Daryl Peterson, EIH Managing Director. “Programs like this help bridge the skills gap.”

Since engineering projects are often collaborative, teaching students how to tackle problems together was one of the camp’s central goals. “Team building activities help build bonds, and those bonds are key in helping people work more efficiently,” said Aydin.

— Karla Cruise, Notre Dame Engineering