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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Outreach: Design It! Build It!

Design It! Build It! Workshop
TOWER POWER: High school students build their design skills in groups. Photograph by Kathryn LoConte Lapierre.

Thayer’s second annual Design It! Build It! summer workshop gave 37 high school juniors and seniors an intensive two-week introduction to the creativity—and fun—of engineering.

Led by Professor Vicki May, the workshop took students through the hands-on process of designing and fabricating underwater robots, guitars, waterproof headphones, guitar pedals, iPod amplifiers, synthesizers, model rockets, and longboards.

“We want our students to gain a better understanding of engineering, to see how multi-dimensional it is,” says May. “Many high school students think engineering is just building bridges or airplanes. I want to show them it’s much broader than that.”

A team of Thayer professors, grad students, and undergraduates taught the students a variety of engineering skills, including design thinking, spatial reasoning, and computer-aided design, and introduced them to topics such as frequency and vibration, beam bending, and optics. Studying wind and solar energy, the high school students designed wind turbine blades with a pitch and shape that would produce the maximum amount of electricity and tested solar energy panels to find out which panel design produced the most electricity. Thayer students showed them the machines and tools of the machine shop and helped them print out gliders and 3-D glasses.

Shifting gears, students also got an unusual inside look at the college application process. Dartmouth’s Associate Director of Admissions, Adria Belin, let them read actual applications from past years and evaluate which applicants should be accepted, rejected, or waitlisted. The goal: to help the students strengthen their own college applications.

The workshop culminated with students testing their completed projects and giving presentations to their parents about how much they learned.

“Since starting this workshop, I’ve realized that engineering is much more than numbers—there’s a lot of creative sides to it,” says Megan Morris of Chicago, Ill. “Touring all the awesome labs here got me interested in studying biomedical engineering.”

“I was afraid of engineering when I first came to this camp,” admits Brittney Antous of Newtown, Conn. “I didn’t think I could tackle it. But the teachers here really broke everything down so that we could understand it. I now might want to major in electrical engineering in college.”

—Alex Arcone


For more photos, visit our Design It. Build It. album on Flickr.

Categories: The Great Hall, Outreach

Tags: design, faculty, STEM, students

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