Native American students hosted at WSU camp

The tiny percentage of Native American students who pursue engineering is the impetus behind the Ny’EE camp currently underway at WSU’s College of Engineering and Architecture. The camp, which is free for the students, has grown every year since its 1999 inception. Its name, Ny’EE, or Native Youth Exploring Engineering, came from a student in the first year of the camp.

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 — communications.

Workshops teach basics in engineering and try to instill a joy of building things. In one workshop, 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 faculty member and 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 provides two one-week sessions, the first of which is already underway. The second session begins Monday, June 17.

The camp now includes a communications component, directed by communication faculty member John Irby, in which students learn basics in newsletters, Web design and video production. Irby is assisted by students and staff.

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 fund the program.

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