Campers learn what it's like to be an engineer

Miranda Holloway, Media Communications Specialist

As summer winds down, so do the summer camps that have filled the engineering campus for the last seven weeks.

More than 400 campers from across the country passed through the halls of the engineering buildings to get hands-on experience in different fields offered by the college.

The camps included: GAMES (Girls Adventures in Mathematics Engineering and Science) for high school girls, WYSE (Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering) for co-ed high school students, GLAM-mid (Girls Learning About Material Science) for middle school girls, Illinois Summer Academies, and I CAN EXSEL  (Illinois-ChiS&E Alliance for Nurturing Excellence in STEM Education Leadership) for rising ninth graders from Chicago Public Schools. There were additional programs held by organizations like Illinois 4-H, which had engineering sections of their Illinois Summer Academies. 

The final session ended on July 26 with I CAN EXSEL.

Nickolas Mays, a 14-year-old who participated in the I CAN EXSEL camp was excited to get a chance to try out different fields of engineering.

“What really peaked my interest was engineering,” Mays said. “I used to pretend to make stuff when I was a kid, and I knew engineering has something to do with making things. ”

Giving students access to real-life engineering experiences is critical as middle school, and high school students start to consider the possibilities in their futures. 

“I think it’s really important especially early on in puberty and especially going into high school because at that time a lot of people’s different interests beyond high school and college where they want to work really start to formulate different idea of what they want to do,” said I CAN EXSEL counselor William Helgren (Physics ’19). 

The lab time in the camps give students the chance to learn what it means to be an engineer. Additionally, with roommates, dorm food, classroom time, and campus walks, they also get a feel for being a college student, as most of the camps are over-night.

“I love it so far," Mays said.


We had a great time this summer hosting future Illini Engineers at our STEM summer camps! We miss you already! 💕⚗️🔬🚀

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