University City

Engineering camp back for third year

Liem Tran nudged a lever on his remote control, kicking the model plane's propeller into a gusty spin.

Papers flew from a desk nearby. Jamal Cook and Ahmad Ferguson smiled as air rushed from behind the plane and pressed against their shirts and faces.

Tran's demonstration for students at Vance High School's Gateway Academy Summer Camp was intended to show there are interesting ways to use math, science, engineering and the other subjects the group will study in the Academy of Engineering.

"Studying formula is not fun," said Tran, a board member for the academy and owner of Hobby Town on W.T. Harris Boulevard. "Studying airplanes and looking at how formulas can apply, that is a new twist."

The camp returned for a third year last week thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation and Project Lead the Way.

About 24 students were enrolled for hands-on projects intended to boost interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM.

Tran talked to the group about gravity and acceleration. Even when the remote-controlled plane was sitting on a desk, it had a negative acceleration rate of 9.8 meters per second squared because of the earth's rotation and gravity.

Students in the camp also were to design and launch rockets, take apart computers to study their inner workings, design a buoyant cargo ship and launch "eggstronauts" to test the safety of vehicles they design.

"The summer camp brings fun and learning together," said Sabrina Finkbeiner, director of Vance's Academy of Engineering. "The summer camp experience develops friendships that last throughout the high school program. They're close for four years."

Earlier this year, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' foundation donated $45,000 to Vance to support its Project Lead the Way initiative, which provides STEM curricula.

The grant paid for software students can use to learn computer-integrated manufacturing.

The grant also paid to train a teacher to lead a computer-integrated manufacturing class, which is one of six courses in Vance's Academy of Engineering.

With the software, students will take their engineering and architecture projects beyond the design phase, using the software to convert designs into 3D models of plastic or other materials.