PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s Native Youth Exploring Engineering Camp, the only camp of its kind in the country, will offer Native American students throughout the region the opportunity to learn about engineering and experience university life June 15-20.
The camp, located at the university’s Pullman campus, is free to Native American students in grades 9-11 and includes their teachers in the program. This allows students and teachers to return to their schools with a renewed enthusiasm and understanding of math and science, said Charlena Grimes, NY’EE camp director and academic coordinator for the WSU College of Engineering and Architecture.
The camp, established and named by its first attendees five years ago, was created to help increase the small percentage of Native American students who pursue careers in engineering.
During the one-week session, students will participate in building engineering projects, such as robots, balsa wood bridges and edible automobiles while learning about concepts in structural and electrical engineering. Several of the camp’s graduates have attended college.
Camp organizers expect a record 70 students from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana for the one-week session.
With support from the WSU College of Liberal Arts, students also will participate in a session on communications, where they will learn the basics of journalism and media. For the first time, the camp will include a session on native sign language taught by Kemet Spence, a retired WSU professor of microbiology. Spence learned the language from his great-uncle, a Cree-Nez Perce Indian who grew up on the Colville Reservation in Washington. Students will also have a math session and chemistry demonstration.
“Math is essential to studying engineering,’’ Grimes said. “We want to introduce the students here to the fun of math, so they will see the importance of studying it in high school.’’
WSU’s Office of the Provost, the Plateau Native American Scholarship Fund for Recruitment and Student Support, the Creighton Endowment for Native American Students, M. DoLores Larson, The Boeing Company and Hewlett-Packard have provided funding for the program.