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Engineering an early start

[Queen's Summer Engineering Academy]
Students work on an experiment during last year's Queen's Summer Engineering Academy. For 2017, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has introduced a junior program for students entering grades 8 and 9. (Supplied photo)

The Queen’s Summer Engineering Academy (QSEA) is getting bigger and better.

Building on the success of its inaugural camps last year, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is offering an expanded program to expose students currently in grades 7 to 12 to the array of possibilities engineering at Queen’s has to offer.

New this year is QSEA Jr., which provides introductory programing for students going into grades 8 and 9 in the fall of 2017. The focus of QSEA Jr. is to introduce students to the basics of engineering design, robotics, and innovation as well as the opportunities available in makerspaces.

Queen’s already has a makerspace in SparQ Studio and more are planned. Makerspaces provide use of equipment and technology that users might otherwise be unable to access such as 3D printers, laser cutters and wide range of electronics, says Scott Compeau, Engineering Outreach Coordinator.

“Through QSEA Course D and QSEA Jr. we are planning to teach students how to use these tools and then apply it in a context where they can solve a problem that is related to something that they have an interest in,” he says. “These are 21st century competencies and skills which are becoming an important topic of discussion in education.”

Mr. Compeau, who has a Master’s degree specializing in Engineering Education with a thesis on high school students’ perception of engineering, adds that the QSEA Jr. program hopefully will act as a feeder or introductory step for the senior QSEA program, which offers a more in-depth and specialized engineering experience.

The QSEA program has also been expanded with two courses running simultaneously during each of the four weeks. Last year’s single course drew a maximum of 24 students each week, however, this year each course is capped at 16 students, allowing for a better student-teacher ratio, Mr. Compeau points out.

Also, each of the courses will explore different disciplines of engineering, such as electrical and computer, mechanical and biomedical engineering, chemical engineering and engineering chemistry, to geological, mining and civil engineering. One course (Course D) will also explore the intersection between engineering, innovation, and entrepreneurship which will be modelled after the successful Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) program.

QSEA 2016 provided a solid foundation for the programming and this year organizers are looking to build on those successes.

“Among the successes that we heard about through student feedback was that they became a lot more aware and a lot more knowledgeable about various disciplines within engineering and what engineering might be like,” Mr. Compeau says. “Some of the students said they had no idea about the breadth of engineering disciplines and they really enjoyed learning about that. A lot of them, in terms of the hands-on opportunities, really enjoyed doing the practical aspects of engineering in the labs on campus and doing all the experiments. This was an amazing opportunity to showcase the facilities that Queen’s University can offer”

Registration is currently open for both the senior and junior programs.

QSEA is available for four weeks (July 17-21, July 24-28, July 31-Aug. 4, Aug 14-Aug. 18). QSEA Jr. is being hosted for the first three weeks.

Again this year there are commuter and residence options available.

For more information including registration, schedules, and to view videos about the academy, visit the QSEA webpage.