This past Tuesday and Wednesday, for the first time ever Brigham Young University hosted an engineering day-camp for 7th and 8th grade students.
Known as Chip Camp, it is based on the long-running camp of the same name in Boise, Idaho. Founded by the Micron Foundation, the camp is dedicated to teaching young students about the world of engineering and technology. Both BYU students and industry professionals were in attendance to help facilitate the camp’s programs.
Trevor Decker, a BYU electrical and computer engineering major and student co-director of Chip Camp, explained that most of the inspiration for their activities came from the Micron Foundation, but that they were given the freedom to add their own style.
“We made our own improvements and tweaks to make it our own,” Decker said. “So, it’s BYU’s flavor of Chip Camp to make it ours and to make it unique.”
Both BYU and Micron agree that the biggest benefit to these young students is the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of engineering and technology.
Aaron Hawkins, professor of electrical engineering and one of the main coordinating directors for the camp, explained that this program is specifically designed to help young minds explore their interests and gain self-confidence.
“The intention is to show them that science and engineering can be fun, doable, and that they have the skills already to make things, and to engineer their own projects,” Hawkins said.
The Micron Foundation chose to bring this program to BYU because of their strong partnership with the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology as well as their relationship to IMMERSE, a mentoring program that gets undergraduates involved in research.
Janine Rush-Byers, university education director for the Micron Foundation, explained that there were strong advantages to hosting their camp at a university.
“The biggest benefit is that it is at a university with the resources and infrastructure needed to run Chip Camp,” said Rush-Byers. “These kids are exposed to science and engineering in a university atmosphere where they’re working with engineering students.”
Those involved with Chip Camp agreed that the focus is on the campers in attendance, and to help them discover what interests them, as well as any career fields they may potentially pursue.
Camille Bateman, an 8th grader from Lehi Junior high, came to Chip Camp with a vague idea of what interested her, but left with a strong focus on her future career goals.
“I really want to be some type of engineer when I grow up, and I didn’t know which type of engineering I wanted to be in,” said Bateman. “I’ve always liked computer programming and being able to create stuff on the computer, and now that I’ve been in it I have a good idea of what I want to be.”
While this is the first Chip Camp at BYU, it is certainly not the last. Both Micron and IMMERSE have confirmed that there is funding for next year’s Chip Camp, and potentially more to follow. More information about Micron Foundation, IMMERSE and Chip Camp can be found on their respective websites.