Each year, the University of Houston’s Honors College organizes the Cougar Junior Scholars Camp to provide middle school students a chance to experience the UH campus firsthand through multidisciplinary coursework, hands-on activities and campus tours. This year’s camp, which took place from July 11 – 15, offered courses in engineering, literature, creative writing and chemistry.
“We hope to show students the different choices you have when you go to college,” said Long, who also serves as associate dean of undergraduate research at the UH Honors College. “We want to give them a preview of the University and get them thinking about possible majors early on and about the best path to get there.”
Long guided the campers through a civil engineering lesson by having them design and build resilient structures out of index cards. Campers learned about electrical engineering by creating audio speakers out of basic, everyday materials. On the last day of the camp, students gleaned lessons on electromagnetics by studying the engine of a Tesla: campers watched as magnets levitated above the superconducting Tesla coil, which generates an electric field that causes the magnets to float in mid-air.
“Students don’t usually take engineering classes in middle and high school, so I want to be sure that they understand what engineers do and how large of an impact engineering has on their everyday lives,” said Long. “I would like for the students to become intrigued by the engineering field and see themselves pursuing it in the future.”
Long said that reaching students at an early age is especially important. “There is a shortage of engineers nationally,” he said. “If we focus on reaching and helping younger students to be more prepared for college, the field will start to grow in the best way—from the ground up.”
In addition to participating in the Cougar Junior Scholars Camp, the Cullen College offers a wide variety of community engagement programs, including G.R.A.D.E. (Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence) Camp and Passport to UH.
View photos from the event here and watch our video below!