'Success Institute' To Focus On Energy Issues As High School Students Prepare For Future Careers In Engineering And Technology

Published: July 17, 2001

Editors: Media reporters and photographers wanting to attend the Success Institute can get an agenda by calling Carol Rowe at (303) 492-7426. It runs July 24-28 at the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory of CU's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

While their friends go swimming or clock in hours at summer jobs, some hard-working 10th and 12th graders from Denver, Boulder and St. Vrain Valley schools will take time out to build solar-powered cars and learn about alternative energy sources at CU-Boulder's fourth annual "Engineering Success Institute."

The institute runs July 24 through July 28.

Nearly 100 high school students from groups underrepresented in engineering -- including minority students, girls and other teens who could be the first in their families to attend college -- will participate in this year's institute. The overnight, residential engineering outreach program exposes students to a variety of engineering disciplines and introduces them to faculty, students and industry representatives who provide encouragement and serve as role models.

The institute, which started with sessions for ninth and 11th graders July 11 through 14, has grown steadily since 1998 when a small group of 14 ninth graders piloted the first two-day program.

Each year, an additional grade level has been added to the institute, with many students returning year after year for longer and more advanced workshops. A five-day program for 12th graders, in which students will design and build solar-powered cars, will be offered for the first time this year.

The class, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, ends with a contest in which the cars are judged on speed, accuracy and aesthetics. Thirty 12th graders, including several who attended the first-year pilot program as ninth graders in 1998, are scheduled to participate.

Tenth graders will join the institute on Friday and Saturday for a two-day session in which they will explore the various sources of energy in the everyday world. They will experiment with water turbines, electroplate keys and cook brownies using solar-powered ovens. Parents of all students come in on Saturday for the presentation of final projects and to attend parent workshops intended to help them better prepare their high school students for college futures in engineering and technology.

Total student enrollment for this year's institute is expected to be at least 30 percent greater than last year when 67 students in three grade levels attended.

The Success Institute is a joint initiative involving several programs. They include: the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory and Program, which has pioneered hands-on "design-and-build" programs for students of all ages; and the Multicultural Engineering and Women in Engineering programs, which focus on recruitment and retention of students underrepresented in the engineering profession.

Students were recruited to attend the institute through middle school visits, teacher and counselor referrals, and spring field trips to the ITL Laboratory, offering students a hands-on engineering "sampler."

"The Success Institute provides a way for us to really reach underrepresented students at younger ages and get them excited about math, science and engineering," said Dave Aragon, director of the Multicultural Engineering Program. "We hope to see many of these students go on to study these fields in greater depth during college."

ITL co-director Jackie Sullivan noted that girls make up 53 percent of this year's enrollment at the institute. "We think that's pretty exciting, given that college enrollments nationally in engineering are only around 20 percent women. This program is attracting numbers of girls that are more representative of the population at-large and of college enrollments nationally across all disciplines," Sullivan said.

Success Institute sponsors include the Department of Energy - Rocky Flats, the Colorado Institute of Technology, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the National Science Foundation, an engineering alumnus, the CU Outreach Committee and IBM Corp., which donated computer equipment being used in all of ITL's summer K-12 outreach programs.

For more information on the institute and other engineering outreach programs call Janet Yowell at (303) 492-5230.