College of Engineering Hosts Program for Middle School Students

Students participating in the AT&T Middle School Introduction for Engineering Systems (MITES) programThirty-one middle-schoolers from around the Southeast came to UT in June to design egg-drop bungees, rollercoasters and even construct a microgrid.

The College of Engineering hosted the AT&T Middle School Introduction for Engineering Systems (MITES) program where minority and female students—groups underrepresented in engineering—got an up-close look at the in-demand field and had fun doing it. The program was for African-American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American, and female seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“The objective was to provide an introduction to engineering, showcase the applications of math and science, and learn what engineers do in the real world,” said Richard Bennett, coordinator of curriculum content for pre-college summer programs. “The students performed hands-on activities to learn what engineers do and also used iPads to document their activities in construction, medicine, and energy, so they could get a feel for how engineers operate today.”

Participants also explored campus, competed in engineering challenges, cultivated friendships, and gained a jump-start on their academic careers.

Another important component of MITES was emphasizing the importance of mathematics to engineering.

“The math portion of the MITES program was developed with selected material that corresponds to the Knox County eighth-grade math curriculum,” said Michael Gilbert, a mathematics lecturer. “We used interactive, in-class worksheets and follow-up questions for out-of-class assignments to reinforce the concepts we covered.”

Students also worked on projects with researchers in the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT). CURENT focuses on research, education and technology for sustainable energy systems, with an emphasis on power transmission systems.

“Students learned about electricity fundamentals, electromagnetism, motors, generators and solar and wind power,” said Rebecca Oldham, a program resource specialist for CURENT. “The engineering design program challenged students to apply their knowledge through hands-on projects such as building solar cars and designing windmill blades to power a light. Through these activities, we hoped to inspire creativity, problem-solving skills and an interest in engineering.”

The MITES program began in 1997, facilitated by the college’s Engineering Diversity Programs Office. Two one-week sessions were held this year, June 17–22 and June 24–29. Since the beginning of the program, MITES has provided the summer experience to 294 middle school students and has grown from twenty-one participants in 1997 to thirty participants in 2011. AT&T is the corporate sponsor for this year’s program.

Student participants included:

  • Tabre Abernathy from Athens
  • Miki Benson from Bothell, Washington
  • Dayna Blackburn from Chattanooga
  • Amy Brown from Pensacola, Florida
  • MacKenzie Burton from Sparta
  • Nathanael Byers from Kingston
  • Allison Campbell from Knoxville
  • Trinity Coward from Lavergne
  • Jordan Cowen from Spring City
  • Sarah Cox from Fayetteville
  • Tommie Curry Jr. from Memphis
  • Savanna Davis from Fayetteville
  • De’Arrion Dorsey from Memphis
  • Jessica France from Memphis
  • Micah Garcia from Hermitage
  • Lindsey Jones from LaFollette
  • La’Tia Key from Memphis
  • Kortland Martin from Humboldt
  • Carrington McGowan from Memphis
  • Wilfred Odo from Memphis
  • Brieana Ogilvie from Memphis
  • Kate Parkes from Fayetteville
  • Dorrington Reid III from Humboldt
  • Justin Sisk from Fayetteville
  • Michael Spitler from Maryville
  • Robert Steward from Memphis
  • Kainen Stoner from Ten Mile
  • Roddrick Tooles from Memphis
  • Kestrel Troutman from Sevierville
  • Russell Weatherford from Edison
  • Erick Williams from Memphis

For more details on the MITES program and other programs, visit www.engr.utk.edu/edp/pre_college.

C O N T A C T:

Travis Griffin (865-974-1931, travisg@utk.edu)

Kim Cowart (865-974-0686, kcowart@utk.edu)

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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