U.S. Army offers program for high school engineering students

June 3, 2008

The U.S. Army Research Office (USARO) is again supporting a series of pre-college engineering summer camps held at nine universities across the country to help foster an interest in engineering among high school students.

The program is called UNITE, is funded by the USARO and is coordinated by the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) (www.jets.org), a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating our nation's young people about and preparing them for engineering and technology careers. The program serves historically underrepresented and disadvantaged populations by helping students prepare for engineering and related careers through opportunities that let them ‘try-on’ engineering as a course of study and as a career. While each UNITE site’s program is unique to its local area, all consist of four-to-eight week summer camps which are structured around highly rigorous academic courses coupled with unique hands-on activities.

UNITE helps prepare students for the college application process and teaches them the value of teamwork by emphasizing group projects. Students in grades 9-12 learn by doing, experience off site field work, work in hands-on labs, talk with experts, and engage in one-on-one instruction. Programs mimic a collegiate first-year experience, with some incorporating an on-campus residential component.

The nine universities conducting the UNITE summer programs for 2008 include: Florida International University, Morgan State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Mexico MESA, Savannah State University, Texas Southern University, University of Delaware, University of Detroit-Mercy, and University of New Orleans.

In the 20 years of the program’s existence the USARO has invested more than $3.5 million toward this initiative, reaching more than 7,000 students and helping expose them to the world of engineering. Of the students impacted, 55% are female, 53% are African American and approximately 54% of those currently in college choose to pursue engineering.