Urban STEM Camp Promotes Career Paths, College Life to Students
When the students who attend the Urban STEM Summer Camp think about their future careers, the camp’s instructors want them to think about possibilities such as electrical engineering, cybersecurity or cardiology.
The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Dallas has hosted the camp for young men in grades 7 to 10 with Project Still I Rise for nine years. The camp aims to increase the number of young men from underserved communities pursuing STEM jobs.
“What we noticed in our community was that our boys weren’t getting the exposure they needed to go into some of the fields that are important and in high demand,” said Marcus Robinson, program director for Project Still I Rise. “We make sure we groom our kids to be ready for tomorrow.”
About 4.8 percent of scientists and engineers are black and 6 percent are Hispanic in the United States, according to the National Science Foundation.
From eating and sleeping in a campus residence hall to meeting faculty members in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and professionals in STEM fields, the camp gives students the opportunity to learn firsthand about college and career paths.
“Our goal is to expose underrepresented minority males to all things STEM-related,” said David Robinson Jr., assistant director of community engagement at UT Dallas. “We try to jam-pack activities into the three-day camp so they can be exposed to things they may not have been exposed to.”
The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement also hosts two other summer camps to prepare students for college — a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) camp for young women and the Future Comets college readiness camp for junior high students.
“I like that I’m able to interact with young people who have an interest in STEM and need guidance in order to navigate that area. It’s a way of giving back to the community.”
At this year’s Urban STEM Summer Camp, 30 young men met with a cardiologist, an engineer from Lockheed Martin and a cybersecurity expert from State Farm who talked about their education and their jobs. The students also attended sessions with Dr. Rashaunda Henderson, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Dr. Giacomo Valerio Iungo, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who demonstrated his work on wind energy.
“A lot of the presenters are people of color, so the students can see that they can do it, too,” Robinson said.
In one of the camp activities, the young men were asked to assemble model rockets, which they launched that afternoon.
Demarcus Lott, a mechanical engineering senior who served as a mentor at the camp, stopped to check on some of the groups. Like the campers, Lott said he received guidance during high school that helped him decide to study engineering at UT Dallas. He said he was happy to be able to return the favor as a camp volunteer.
“I like that I’m able to interact with young people who have an interest in STEM and need guidance in order to navigate that area,” Lott said. “It’s a way of giving back to the community.”
Landon Beecham, a high school junior from DeSoto, said the camp taught him about a variety of career possibilities.
“It’s good exposure. We meet a lot of new people, make new friends and get to hear from interesting people who come to talk to us,” Beecham said.
Whatever career he decides on, he said it will involve STEM.
“I’m a science person,” Beecham said. “I really like science.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].