Cesar Martinez grew up near the Boeing and Lockheed Martin facilities in Houston. It gave him an appreciation for aircraft and inspired in him a dream for what he might one day become: an aeronautical engineer.
Martinez and 50 other Houston-area high school students arrived on the Texas A&M University campus July 22 for a week-long camp designed to show them the world of engineering. They were selected to take part in the camp through Houston Works USA and its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, which is in its fifth year. A U.S. Department of Defense grant and sponsor donations funded the camp.
As part of the visit, the group toured the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and attended presentations about TTI’s Teens in the Driver Seat Program, distracted driving research, Crash Testing Program and Environmental and Emissions Research Facility. In addition to getting behind the wheel of the Institute’s driving simulator, the 10th and 11thgraders learned about the various transportation-engineering careers available to them.
“Many of these students have never been on a college campus and don’t have an understanding about the options open to them,” Houston Works Counselor Eric Hill said during the TTI tour. “They really have been in learning mode all week. I wish I would have experienced a program like this when I was in high school.”
To be considered for the program, the students had to have an interest in engineering and a 3.0 grade-point average. Each was selected based on his or her application, which included an essay about why the student wanted to participate in the engineering camp. The students come from diverse backgrounds, representing 29 Houston-area high schools.
While staying in Lechner Hall for the week, the students’ schedule included tours of the university’s Visualization Laboratory and Space Engineering Research Center. They also learned about solar energy and robotics research.
“This visit really gave them an introduction to college life and all the opportunities that are available to them,” Brenda Woods, the youth services director for Houston Works USA, says. “It was a wonderful experience, and the hospitality was like none other. And I can tell you that many of students, because of this visit, decided to become Aggies.”