Volkswagen-Sponsored Camp Introduces Students to UT, Engineering

Although the kids may be out of school for the summer, the opportunity to learn hasn’t taken a vacation.

With the Volkswagen-sponsored Engineering VOLunteers for Tenth Graders, or eVOL10, now under way at UT’s College of Engineering, students in high school and middle school are getting a chance to take a deeper look into future possibilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

“This is a chance for students from around the United States to come here and see not only what a STEM education can mean, but what we can offer at UT specifically, as well,” said Travis Griffin, director of the college’s diversity programs. “That includes everything from living on campus to getting ACT prep.”

The camp features an in-depth look at chemistry, automotive design, chemical engineering, and manufacturing, and gives the company a chance to support the next generation of researchers and engineers.

“The development of young minds and sparking an interest in the sciences is a critical aspect of our support of this program,” said Sebastian Patta, executive vice president of human resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “This camp is an example of our commitment to education and of our ongoing relationship with UT.”

A key component of the camp will see students team up to design and build their own chemically powered cars.

Giving it a real-world edge, teams will have to come up with a variety of business strategies, as though launching a product for a company such as Volkswagen.

“Students have to design and construct a car out of small building blocks that is sturdy enough to support the weight of a bottle containing the chemicals that will propel the car forward,” said Gabriel Goenaga, senior research associate in chemical engineering and leader of the automotive portion of the camp. “The car that wins the competition is the car that travels the farthest.”

Goenaga pointed out that the design process includes using trial and error to determine the best concentrations of the chemicals, modifying the car for optimized performance, and delivering a presentation on the car that describes the overall effort.

That connection between classroom and the real world will be cemented when campers take a field trip to DENSO in Blount County to get a look at a facility devoted to automotive engineering.

The camp is the first of many week-long camps for students in the college this summer.

Though topics change according to grade level, students will be introduced to high-end STEM activities, possible career and education paths, and college preparation courses in the process.

Over the course of the summer, the camps will bring in hundreds of students from eleven states, with participants from as far away as Texas, Illinois, and Maryland.

Other offerings include camps for high school seniors and juniors sponsored by Eastman and Volkswagen, respectively, and a pair of camps for ninth gradersAnother camp, made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, brings together aspects of the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences; the Center for Environmental Biotechnology; the Appalachian Teaching Project; the Office of Engineering Diversity Programs; and the Graduate School of Medicine.

 

CONTACT:

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)