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Sep 20, 2018
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Engineering students gets real-life experience at NASA

The Lyles College of Engineering continued its Summer Engineering Camp program in June and sent over 40 high school students to the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

Hernan Maldonado, director of student services at the college, said the focus of the one-week trip was the development of the new High Speed Rail, which will be the largest infrastructure in California once completed. Maldonado said students also toured the research center and participated in hands-on projects that taught them the application of engineering to aerodynamics.

“Students learned geomatics engineering, presentation, how to use 3D scanners, and how to take measurements using GIS and GPS,” Maldonado said. The trip also featured a tour of a Black Hawk helicopter, a motion simulator used to train astronauts and the world’s largest wind tunnel.

Maldonado said the mission of the camp is to allow students to explore the different disciplines of engineering. He said the camp helps students to decide which branch of engineering they should study.

“Engineering doesn’t really get taught at the K through 12 level, so a lot of the students who come in don’t really know what engineering is,” Maldonado said. “That’s why we have this camp, to really help them make an educated decision on what they would like to major in or which discipline to pursue.”

Rebecca Wass, communications specialist for the Lyles College, said the trip was life-changing for some students. She said one student from Fowler High School told her the camp helped him decide to study mechanical engineering.

“Just hearing his excitement was really touching,” Wass said.

Maldonado said the Lyles College starts recruiting students for the trip in March. Students must meet high academic performance expectations, write a personal essay and submit a letter of recommendation to be eligible. Maldonado said a selection committee decides which students are selected for the trip.

Students must also pay a $150 fee. Scholarships are available for students from low-income families.

This year’s trip was the 10th the college has organized. Past trips included visits to Edwards Air Force Base, NASA Dryden and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. Each trip focuses on a theme and how different engineering disciplines apply to it.

Maldonado said many of the students who participate in the trips, whether they are from local high schools or not, go on to attend Fresno State.

“We’re creating more engineers. That’s our No. 1 goal,” Maldonado said, “And then to see them come here? That’s our biggest satisfaction.”

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