- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - In an effort to promote the career fields of engineering and computer science, the University of Wyoming hosted 36 high school juniors and seniors from around the country this past week.

“The end goal is to try to increase the number of students that enter into engineering as a career,” said Michael Pishko, dean of the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science. “The idea is to get students motivated and excited about engineering and get them to apply to the University of Wyoming.”

Selected students participated in daily classes to learn about the many aspects related to engineering, taught by professors in related fields, said Jeff Anderson, program director.

“(The students) select one morning class and one afternoon class in areas they like, and they have those two classes all week long,” he said. “The idea is for them to get into some depth in that area and meet the faculty.”

The variety of options is also important to show engineering is not just about buildings and bridges, Pishko told the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/1FHzH2G).

“Engineers work on everything from bridges and construction to extracting minerals from the ground,” he said. “They also work in cyber security and power systems. Engineers work in such a diversity of aspects across the economy and in our everyday lives. I think it’s a good idea for students to see exactly what the breadth is of the discipline as a whole.”

The classes usually don’t involve students sitting in chairs listening to a professor talk about a subject, Anderson said, but are more oriented toward projects and activities.

The Atmospheric Science Department class involved students launching a weather balloon and then finding it the next to obtain its data.

During the weeklong program, students stayed in the dorms and ate at the cafeteria like college freshmen to give them the full UW experience, Anderson said.

“We tell them we would like them to consider engineering and consider coming to the University of Wyoming,” he said.

While the Summer Program is for high school students only, several other programs are in the works for other groups, Pishko said.

“The teacher workshop is something new we’re launching (next summer),” he said. “It’s geared mainly toward helping high school and middle school teachers understand some education better, particularly engineering. The idea is we’d be able to give them the modules and tools that they’d then be able to take back with them and use in their own classroom.”

Programs for middle school and elementary students are also being planned, Pishko said.

“It’s all about the momentum - getting kids interested (in engineering) early on and keeping them interested,” he said.

Even though showcasing the facilities and faculty the university can offer is an important part of the program, the end goal is to get students excited about the engineering field, Anderson said.

“I hope they leave with an improved or greater understanding of what engineering is all about - what it has to offer,” he said. “We try to inspire them.”

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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