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Summer experience gets a virtual upgrade during global pandemic

Each summer the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University welcomes rising high school juniors and seniors to an immersive summer experience for an opportunity to discover if engineering is the right field for them to pursue in college.

In the past, students participating in the Summer Engineering Experience at ASU, or SEE@ASU, would live on ASU’s Tempe campus for a week in the Tooker House Residential Hall, the residential community built for engineers.  However, this year SEE@ASU was revamped to become an entirely remote experience in the wake of COVID-19.

Participants joined current students, faculty members and professional engineers to discover the innovative degree programs offered by the Fulton Schools. They learned about what makes various engineering and technology disciplines distinct and what potential career paths each major could lead them toward.

contents of a box showing supplies used during virtual SEE@ASU camp

Prior to the weeklong camp sessions, students received a box of supplies and tools to use for the planned activities throughout the week, along with some Fulton Schools swag. Photo courtesy of Nina Loughman

A lot of thought and effort went into converting SEE@ASU from an in-person experience to a virtual experience.

“The outreach and recruitment team created a comprehensive and interactive Canvas course for SEE@ASU containing all of the content that otherwise would have been delivered in person,” says Nina Loughman, coordinator of undergraduate recruitment and K-12 outreach in the Fulton Schools.

“To replicate the teambuilding and networking components,” Loughman says, “campers were involved in an engineering team project throughout the week that culminated in a Virtual Showcase.”

Despite being a remote experience, participants were able to visit research labs on campus virtually and get to know Fulton Schools faculty, staff and students with virtual content specially created and curated for this camp experience. Participants not only observed what the Fulton Schools is about, but received hands-on lessons that corresponded with each of the six Fulton Schools.

“The experience had students involved in various engineering sessions and activities each day over the course of the week,” says Loughman. “This included live Zoom sessions with Fulton Schools faculty and students, teamwork with their camp peers, and time dedicated to working through interactive content on the camp Canvas course.”

Several parents of participating campers told Loughman that although the virtual camp wasn’t their original plan for this summer, their students got a lot out of it.

“Each evening, my son couldn’t wait to tell me what he’d done that day,” says the mother of a high school junior in Tolleson, Arizona. “He was very excited to present his part of the group project, which is amazing to me. He usually hates group projects. This has been so good for him.”

SEE@ASU is for all levels of aspiring engineers looking to find the right career path for themselves.

“This camp is very beneficial for those students who are just beginning to learn about engineering and the differences between engineering disciplines because it helps them to make an informed decision when choosing their major,” says Loughman.

SEE@ASU is also a great option for students who have already been exposed the vast array of engineering possibilities because they can solidify their understanding of what higher education coursework involves. The program also helps them understand how they can enhance their engineering knowledge in the Fulton Schools through research and extracurricular opportunities.

“It helped me figure out different options for my future and I am now interested in a major that I did not even know existed,” says one of the participating students who will be a senior this year.

screen capture of a zoom meeting with a shared screen

SEE@ASU participants explored the various engineering and technology disciplines. They learned about the potential career paths each of the distinctive engineering fields could lead them toward through their interactions with Fulton Schools faculty and students as well as professional engineers. Image courtesy of Nina Loughman

The virtual world makes it a little easier to transcend the physical limitations and allow for more inclusion. One example was that more out-of-state students were able to attend and learn about the Fulton Schools than in the past. Students from as far away as Maryland and New York participated in SEE@ASU this year.

The success of the virtual SEE@ASU experience has opened the door to expand the program beyond the summer experience and may allow for students to discover engineering and the Fulton Schools educational offerings any time of the year.

“We are in the process of planning a spin-off of SEE@ASU to be launched this fall,” says Loughman. “This will be a ‘deconstructed’ SEE@ASU camp that allows seniors in high school and transfer students to attend half-day Saturday workshops focusing on each of the six Fulton Schools.”

Students will be able to register for as many workshops as they’d like.

“Choosing a major is an important decision and the Fulton Schools are here to help,” says Loughman. “High school students and transfer students are encouraged to register for the Fulton Fundamentals series this fall. We hope they see the awesome potential of being a member of the Fulton Schools family.”

About The Author

Erik Wirtanen

Erik Wirtanen graduated from Arizona State in 2001 with a B.S. in Recreation Management and Tourism. He got his start in the communications field as an undergrad with the ASU Athletics Media Relations office. He worked at UC Irvine from 2002 until 2014 in the Department of Athletics and then The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. In August of 2014, Wirtanen joined the communications office at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Media Contact: erik.wirtanen@asu.edu | 480-727-1957 | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Communications

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