High School Students To Design And Build Robots At Engineering 'Success Institute'

Published: July 16, 2003

A diverse group of high school students from Denver, Boulder and St. Vrain Valley schools will get a taste of what it's like to be an engineer when they design and build robots among other hands-on activities at the University of Colorado at Boulder's sixth annual Success Institute.

Sixty-six teenagers in the ninth through 12th grades, including many girls, underrepresented students and youngsters who could be the first in their families to attend college, will participate in this year's program which runs from July 22 through July 26 on the CU-Boulder campus. The students will stay overnight in a campus residence hall and attend daytime sessions at the award-winning Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory.

Eleventh and 12th graders will spend the full five days on campus, while ninth and 10th graders will attend a two-day program on July 25-26. The younger students will explore different forms of energy and their uses by making solar ovens, experimenting with instruments in the sound lab and visiting CU's award-winning Solar Decathlon home. The older youth will engage in a more sustained and intensive design project involving remote-controlled robots.

All of the students will present their projects to an audience of parents and industry professionals on July 26.

The Success Institute was established in 1998 to expose underrepresented and first-generation students to the field of engineering. Through fun, hands-on activities and interactions with engineering faculty and students, the participants are encouraged to continue their study of math and science in order to prepare for college admission. The students also are encouraged to come back in successive years to continue their involvement through increasingly complex, hands-on engineering activities.

The Success Institute is a joint initiative between the Integrated Teaching and Learning, Multicultural Engineering and Women in Engineering programs at CU-Boulder. Participants are identified through community outreach, school visits and teacher and counselor referrals. Students are asked to write a short essay on why they want to attend the program.

"Through the Success Institute, we are able to show underrepresented and first-generation students the opportunities and rewards of the engineering profession," said Dave Aragon, director of the Multicultural Engineering Program. "We hope this experience will inspire them to work hard throughout high school to prepare themselves for college. We also hope to see many of these students choose to enroll at CU-Boulder."

Twenty-six alumni of the Success Institute graduated from high school in 2002, including 10 who went on to enroll at CU-Boulder last fall. Seven of the students entered the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and three entered the College of Arts and Sciences.

Success Institute sponsors include the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Daniels Fund, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the CU Outreach Committee and CU engineering alumni.