Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Dartmouth’s New High School Engineering Workshop Deemed a Success

By Anna Fiorentino
September 2013 • CoolStuff

This summer at Dartmouth’s pilot engineering workshop, Design it. Build it., local high school students made the stuff of their dreams—longboards, robots, electric guitars and telescopes.

"I have been working with local K–12 teachers for several years—they have been telling me for a while they wish students had more opportunities to better their understanding of engineering," says Dartmouth engineering professor Vicki May, who ran the two-week workshop, held July 29–August 9. "Dean Joseph Helble has also been interested in offering summer programs for K–12 students, and this summer it all finally came together."

Dartmouth summer engineering workshop
Students work on their projects during Design it. Build it.

May, along with fellow Dartmouth engineering professors Peter Robbie, John Collier, Jason Stauth, and Christopher Levey, as well as Thayer Design Fellow Annie Saunders '12 Th'13 and others, facilitated a mix of mini-lectures on engineering and CAD and machining to 32 students and two local teachers. Students built spinning tops, gliders, 3D puzzles, wind turbine blades, ping pong carriers, hydraulic machines, and finally, one of four larger projects, which they presented to family and friends.

Introducing students to SolidWorks opened up a world of design possibilities for them, since CAD allows for the creation of models too complex, expensive or large to build in real life. "They loved the idea that you could simply save the CAD file and load it onto the 3D printer to build a hands-on model of their design in hours," says Saunders.

While a handful of students had frequented other engineering camps or taken high school engineering classes, for most it was their first exposure to engineering. From it, they discovered just how creative designing and building could be.

"I had fun getting high school students excited about engineering and seeing that it could be fun," says May, who will hold the camp again. "They were eager to learn and full of energy and there was no grading pressure. One student even scheduled a tour of Dartmouth and Thayer School as a result of the program."

Added Saunders, "If I had found a camp like the Design It. Build It. workshop, I would have started out on the engineering track with more confidence and more conviction that engineering was the right path for me."

Tags: design, faculty, projects

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