Making it work: Crosby Scholars explore engineering at summer camp

Published 12:03 am Thursday, July 6, 2023

SALISBURY — Sometimes all it takes to light a fire is a little spark.

Crosby Scholars campers at BrickEd&More spent a week learning about various types of engineering and exploring possible futures in various fields.

“It’s an engineering camp,” said Angela Galloway, an engagement specialist and head of tutoring at the facility. “Every day, we have had a different kind of engineer come and speak to them. They do activities that align with the type of engineering that we had to speak.”

The campers waded through civil, mechanical, industrial and electrical engineering from Monday (June 26) through Thursday (June 29).

“[Thursday], they were exploring electrical engineering and will be working with circuitry,” BrickEd&More CEO Shirley Disseler said. “We have an electrical engineer coming in to share with them about what the requirements for education are and what they need to be looking for if they want to go into [the field]. We brought a career person in every single day.”

Disseler said that they tried to provide a varied representation of engineers.

“We try to do people who have been in the field for a long time,” Disseley said. “When we did mechanical engineering, we got a recent college graduate. We had a female. We had males. We try to mix it up so the kids can see themselves in the career.”

According to Disseley, providing a window into their possibilities is an invaluable opportunity for the campers, many of which are early teenagers just getting started on their path to self-discovery.

“In my opinion, as a professor and as an educator, it is more important for kids to experience what is involved in a career that might lead them to their passion,” Disseler said. “If you take a job because it is a job, you will hate it for the rest of your life. If you take a job because it is your passion, you will love it for the rest of your life.”

Quamae Smith-Dre is a rising eighth grader with plans to attend North Hills Christian Academy in the fall.

“One guy told us about waste management, what that means and how it affects the world,” Smith-Dre said. “It’s good to know that people are helping our environment by cleaning the water.”

Smith-Dre acknowledged that he likes STEM and finds it to be fun. He wants to be a content creator but wouldn’t rule out a future in engineering.

Meanwhile, Noelia Hernandez-Ventura is a rising ninth grader entering Rowan County Early College.

“I like what [the speaker] talked about when he talked about industrial engineering,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “I might consider a career in that. He says that as soon as you get out of college, you can find a job and that there is employment everywhere. It’s one of the biggest growing jobs right now.”

Hernandez-Ventura has a passion for engineering and a knack for math.

“I like engineering and things like that,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “I like STEM [Science, technology, engineering and mathematics]. I don’t love math, but I have always been good at it, and I think that it could be a good career choice for me.”

Those career choices were reflected in the guest speakers. Monday was civil engineering, and the guest was Claire Brinkley, who works for a firm in Charlotte. The kids learned about building towers, strong foundations and what happens to land during a drought.

The lesson Tuesday was mechanical engineering, and the guest Alex Marsh, who works for a firm in Charlotte, helped the campers build rockets that they would blast off on Thursday.

Wednesday was industrial engineering, and Jeff Matthews was the speaker, who spent years in the business.

“To be an industrial engineer, you have to have the mindset about making things better,” Matthews said. “Literally anybody that employs people uses industrial engineers.”

He cited Amazon, Tesla and healthcare providers as such examples.

“It’s all about improving systems or designing systems that eliminate waste and increase productivity and safety,”

On industrial engineering day, one of their exercises was to look at a scrambled page of numbers, pick out all the ones between 1 and 49, and sort them sequentially in 20 seconds.

“So what does it look like if they go through and separate all the numbers they don’t need,” Matthews said. “When you sift out the ones you don’t need, it [gets clearer]. On the second run, they went from one or two correct to about 10 to 12. It goes to show what happens when you organize [elements] and put them in place.”

The exercise continued through various ordering and organization measures until the campers could get all the numbers they needed in the time allotted.

When Thursday came around, the campers finally got to launch the rockets they made on Thursday, but they also got to build amusement park rides with legs.

“We built an amusement park,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “We were supposed to build a Ferris wheel, but we could all do it differently. My group did a Ferris wheel, but others did swings and rides. It was pretty fun because some people put voiceovers on it.”

Whether they build rockets or roller coasters, only time will tell for last week’s campers.