NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos of camp participants are available
on the Web at http://www.uh.edu/media/nr/2007/03march/gradecamp07ph.html.
High-resolution photos are available by contacting Lisa Merkl.
SUMMER CAMPS AT UH ENGINEER SUCCESS FOR
MIDDLE, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Designing Robots Helps Students Kick-Start Careers in Engineering
HOUSTON, March 22, 2007 – The nation’s shortage of
engineers is closely connected to another problem: a shortage of
young people, particularly women and people of color, pursuing engineering
degrees. The University of Houston is working toward a potential
Middle and high school students are being afforded an opportunity
to discover what engineering is all about through hands-on experience
at two summer camps offered through the Cullen College of Engineering
- MESET (Mentoring and Enrichment Seminar in Engineering Training),
a two-week residential camp, will be offered June 3-15 to high
school students who have completed their junior year.
- GRADE (Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence) Camp, a
weeklong day camp for girls entering grades eight through 12,
will be offered in four sessions: June 18-22, June 25-29, July
Both camps cost $200, and camp scholarship applications are available
for students with financial needs. MESET applications are due April
15, while GRADE Camp participants will be selected on a first-come,
MESET began in 1980 and has served nearly a thousand rising 12th
graders since its inception. Participants generally hail from groups
that are traditionally under-represented in engineering, including
African Americans, Hispanics and women, said Kathy Zerda, director
of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES), which
runs the camp. PROMES is a program that provides engineering students
with recruitment, academic advising, workshops, scholarships and
“Our goal is to excite students about the opportunities for
them in engineering as a career while providing a residential pre-college
experience,” she said. “Many MESET alumni have gone
on to attend UH as science and engineering majors over the years.”
MESET participants are introduced to the various disciplines of
engineering before tackling robotics and engineering design contests.
They also make site visits to the Johnson Space Center and to engineering
companies, as well as attend panel discussions with working engineers.
UH engineering students serve as MESET mentors and counselors.
Jessica Abbas, a UH sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree
in industrial engineering, was a MESET mentor at last year’s
camp and a participant, herself, in 2004.
“MESET is a fun way to get a jump start on thinking about
college and your career,” she said.
GRADE Camp, now in its fifth year, includes interactive labs that
incorporate engineering principles to help participants design,
build and program a Lego robot to navigate through a maze. The students
then present their projects to an audience of parents and teachers
at a special luncheon at the end of the week.
GRADE Campers also interact with local female engineers, faculty
and college students to learn about engineering and issues specific
to women pursuing engineering.
Jenny Ruchhoeft, GRADE Camp’s founding director, said she
enjoys watching camp participants empower themselves as they progress
through the curriculum.
“Some girls come to camp somewhat skeptical and then are
so proud of their accomplishments by the end of the week,”
she said. “They gain confidence in their skills and potential
as a future contributing engineer or scientist. They meet successful,
competent and encouraging female role models.”
GRADE Campers’ role models include UH faculty members, who
lead the camps, and undergraduate members of the Society of Women
Engineers who serve as mentors to the camp participants, guiding
them step by step through the curriculum.
“I was excited to help young women learn about the field
of engineering,” said Nicole Stewart, a 2006 GRADE Camp mentor
and UH senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
“The girls gained enough knowledge and hands-on experience
that engineering was not alien to them anymore. They left with friends
and resources to help them succeed with a future in engineering.”
Among those resources is an automatic, one-time $1,000 scholarship
reserved for girls who complete the program and subsequently enroll
in an engineering, technology, natural sciences or mathematics major
their first year at UH.
“The kind of head start GRADE Camp offers young women toward
pursuing careers in engineering is invaluable,” said Allison
Hawthorne, the camp’s incoming director. “Engineering
is so critical in this day and age, and to be part of spreading
that information and introducing girls to this career is extremely
important,” she said.
GRADE Camp participants must be females who have completed appropriate
math and science courses for their grade level. Candidates for MESET
are selected based on their PSAT, SAT or ACT scores, a personal
essay, teacher or counselor recommendations, and a phone interview.
For more information about MESET, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://www.egr.uh.edu/promes/
?e=camps. To learn more about GRADE Camp, call 713-743-4172,
e-mail email@example.com or
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research
and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers
and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate,
civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university
in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and
service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Cullen College of Engineering
UH Cullen College of Engineering has produced five U.S. astronauts,
ten members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs
that have ranked in the top ten nationally. With more than 2,600
students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate
degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical
and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers
specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering
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