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Aspiring engineers explore Mizzou

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Aspiring engineers explore Mizzou

Biological engineering Assistant Professor John Viator, at left, demonstrates a laser to Mizzou Engineering summer camper Carlton Reininger, of Valencia, Calif. Photo by Vicki Hodder

Mizzou Engineering summer campers viewed laser research through a new perspective recently as they kicked off a week of hands-on engineering lessons.

The students listened to light as they experimented with a laser that generates sound waves, and looked at the colors of wavelength numbers. These and other experiments were designed to introduce young engineers to the biomedical tools and techniques that promise great advances in health care, said John Viator, a biological engineering assistant professor who led the lesson.

“It’s exciting to speak to young people who have ideas about how they want to be scientists,” Viator said. “With this type of exposure to actual lab science, students can begin to formulate ways to take their enthusiasm and apply it to their future education and careers.”

Nearly 75 high school students from across the country attended the College of Engineering’s trio of six-day summer camps held on campus throughout July. Campers explored engineering through a mix of lectures, activities and team design competitions aimed at giving them practical experience in engineering’s various disciplines.

High school senior Carlton Reininger, of Valencia, Calif., said that experience helped him determine which engineering field to pursue. While Reininger’s high school math and physics classes already had sparked his interest in engineering, he said talking to Mizzou Engineering’s professors about their research convinced him he wants to go into industrial or mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Other campers had settled on an engineering discipline but wanted to learn more about Mizzou.

“I’m thinking about going here, so I thought I’d get acquainted with the campus and some of the staff,” said Columbia resident Isaac Zachary, a Hickman High School junior.

Camp organizers said they focus both on recruiting student engineers and encouraging broader educational goals through the program. Engineering Recruiting Coordinator Laura Forbes, who helped lead the camps, urged participants to continue developing their math and science skills whether or not they attend Mizzou.

“We’d love for this camp to persuade the students to go into engineering—to get their degrees here at Mizzou Engineering—but as long as we encourage them to pursue higher education, we feel we’ve done our job,” Forbes said.

Michael Taberner, a high school senior from Tehachapi, Calif., said his week at the Mizzou Engineering summer camp confirmed his plans to earn a computer engineering degree. Having a career in which he was able to design his own software would be “something from my dreams,” Taberner said.

“It was a great camp; I really liked it,” Taberner said. “I’m definitely going to go into software engineering.”

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