IUPUI summer camp introduces high-level engineering to students

The image caption followsView print quality image
Engineering graduate student Ebrahim Feyz creates a fire tornado while Minority Engineering Advancement Program campers Donovan Avalos and Alexander Nave, from left to right, look on. Tim Brouk, IU Communications

Fifteen high school students from across the Midwest ended their week of engineering immersion with a bone-breaking snap.

The final project of the 2017 Minority Engineering Advancement Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis included a biomedical engineering project. A universal testing machine, which can apply up to 60,000 pounds of force, was used to crack a lamb leg bone. The students measured the amount of force it took to break the bone, tested various methods to repair it and then broke it again. The force was measured again and compared to the force needed for the original breaks. The team that best repaired its bone -- withstanding the most pressure in round two -- won extra Jaguar souvenirs.

Celebrating 40 years, the Minority Engineering Advancement Program has inspired hundreds of students to pursue engineering and other fields in technology, science and mathematics. The annual IUPUI summer camp leads young students to perform better in high school, creating momentum that could carry them into college and then into a career.

"We want the projects we look for with MEAP to encompass as many areas of engineering and technology as possible," said Patrick Gee, program director and IUPUI engineering lecturer. "Students today are getting various programs at their high school or middle school, but we want to make sure STEM is not overlooked. … We want to make sure the seed is planted for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- academic paths and career paths, especially for those opportunities here at IUPUI."

The high school camp ran June 19-23, while 30 middle school students learned in-depth engineering June 26-30.

Description of the following video:

[Video: IUPUI Engineering's universal testing machine snaps a lamb leg bone with hundreds of pounds of force.]

[Video: The "IUPUI presents" bug appears.]

[Video: The broken bone is shown closer.]

Patrick Gee speaks: We did a bone testing project. They took a lamb bone and did three-point bending and broke that bone. Then students working in teams put that bone back together, repaired it, and we were able to measure the force of the repaired bone compared to the force of the unbroken bone.

[Words appear: Patrick Gee, Director, Minority Engineering Advancement Program]

[Video: Students working in the engineering lab.]

Patrick speaks: We're trying to show under represented students three main STEM areas.]

[Video: More shots of students working.]

Patrick speaks: One is we can introduce classroom/laboratory experiences right here on the campus. Another aspect is the hands-on projects. So, they're forming teams, they're working together, they're putting together some projects, some device.

[Video: A fire tornado conducted by graduate student Mohammed Ebrahim Feyz fascinates students.]

Patrick speaks: They're demonstrating that project or device and then finally testing that in a competition type way. That third aspect is off-campus industrial tours. Students not only see engineering and technology, machinery processes, but they meet positive role models there.

[Words appear: IUPUI Fulfilling the Promise, iupui.edu]

[End of transcript]

Hands-on experiments, tours of industry and exposure to what it’s like being an engineering student help inspire the boys and girls.

Leading up to the cracking finale, the boys and girls bonded during lab experiments led by IUPUI engineering graduate students. Ebrahim Feyz's fire tornado experiment wowed the students when he burned alcohol to create flame. Using plastic tubing around the fire, he showed the natural movement of heat molecules wanting to rise. During the journey up, the molecules spin and twist, causing the tornado effect thanks to the enclosed, tubular space.

Conversely, graduate student Joseph Derrick manned a water tunnel machine to demonstrate fluid dynamics. Derrick's lab uses red dye to illustrate inertia, velocity and viscosity. The concepts help form the basis of mechanical engineering, which continues to improve industries from aerospace to automobile.    

The students then took the concepts learned to build plastic straw towers 16 to 18 inches tall. The towers had to be strong enough to hold paper cups with small weights in them. Tesfa Seyoum was part of the winning team that had the strongest tower.

The image caption followsView print quality image
Minority Engineering Advancement Program summer campers Keelicia McKinstry, left, and Myles Chapman get started on their straw tower project. Tim Brouk, IU Communications
The image caption followsView print quality image
Engineering graduate student Joseph Derrick, right, shows Minority Engineering Advancement Program campers how to use a water tunnel machine. Tim Brouk, IU Communications

"This helps me learn more about what engineering's like and how it is to be in the life of a college student," said Seyoum, a Minority Engineering Advancement Program camper and a sophomore at Center Grove High School. "I really want to be an engineer when I grow up. Since I was little, I've always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. I always liked electronics, too, and I've always wanted to be the person to make them and give them to everybody."

Several camp alumni visited as guests or parents of the campers. Some student camp counselors were alumni as well. Jasmine Moody remembered her time in the program just a few years ago as she made sure her teenage campers were safe, fed and learning throughout the week.

Now a senior in mechanical engineering, Moody knew she wanted to pursue engineering, but she didn’t know which concentration to choose. She tried electrical first before finding a better fit in mechanical. Her time in the Minority Engineering Advancement Program made her future career clearer.

"It gives students an introduction to each sector," Moody said. "It's definitely fun to be in this spot because I was in their shoes once. It's been fun to see them learn different aspects of engineering.

"We're just molding young engineers."