Editor’s Note: Students from the Quinault (Wash.), Warm Springs (Ore.), Flathead (Mont.) and Nez Perce (Idaho) reservations as well as students from Medicine Wheel (Spokane) are participating this week (June 10-14). Next week’s session (June 17-21) will include students from the Yakama, Spokane and Colville reservations.

PULLMAN, Wash. — The tiny percentage of Native American students who pursue engineering is part of the impetus behind the establishment of the highly successful NY’EE camp currently underway in the Washington State University College of Engineering and Architecture. Like most good ideas, the camp has continued to grow every year since its 1999 inception.

At the camp, Native American 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students from throughout the region come to WSU for five days to learn about engineering and this year–for the first time–communication. The camp, which is free for the students, also includes teachers in the program. The name NY’EE, or Native Youth Exploring Engineering, came from a student in the first year of the camp.

The workshops teach basics in engineering. But, they also try to teach students the sheer joy of building things. In one workshop, for instance, students build edible cars from cookies, frosting, and candy, directed by Charlena Grimes, CEA academic coordinator of student services and camp director.

They also build robots with help from Carl Wells, WSU electrical engineering instructor. Students, too, will build bridges with direction from associate dean David McLean. A new workshop on building a teepee will also be offered by WSU staff member Ch’n’na Allen.

“An important part of the exercises is learning that even after following directions, there might be some flaw that prevents a device from working and that troubleshooting plays an important role in fixing problems,’’ said Grimes.

This year, the camp continued to expand, providing two one-week sessions. The second session begins Monday, June 17.

For the first time, the camp includes a communication component, in which students learn basics in preparing newsletters, Web design and video production. WSU communication faculty member John Irby directs the communication sections. In groups, students will produce a video documentary with help from Derren Patterson, a Pullman High School student. WSU English doctoral student Ty Inoue and recent WSU graduate Zach Miller will assist students with Web pages. Camp participants will produce a newsletter with help from staff member Lisa Irby.

Close to 70 students from tribes in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon are expected to attend the two sessions. The Boeing Company and Hewlett-Packard have provided funding for the program.

Workshops will occur Wednesday, June 12, from 8:30 to noon and 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Workshops will include the following:
Robot construction – Sloan 241
Media — Murrow 243
Structures – ETRL 101 — building bridges
Design and Machinery – Dana 136 – building small teepees and edible cars

On Thursday, June 13
Workshops will include:
Teepee building – on the Grimes Way Rugby Field (full-size teepee) from 8:30 a.m. until 11:55 a.m.
Media Preparation – Murrow 243 from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, June 14
Activities will include Poster Preparation
Dana 136, 138, 139 from 8:30 a.m. until 11:55 a.m.
Lunch will include a media show, awards, and group photos. Camp concludes at 2 p.m.