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South Dallas high schoolers get a taste of college life at SMU engineering camp

Excerpt

The following is from the June 30, 2017, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Reporter Kylie Madry is an SMU student interning at The Dallas Morning News. She will be editor of The Daily Campus in the fall.

Scenes from the SMU engineering camp

(Photos by Kim Cobb | SMU News )

July 5, 2017

By Kylie Madry
Breaking News Reporter

An alarm clock, a safe, a security system and a heart rate monitor. All familiar inventions, but remade with one mantra in mind — "cheaper, faster, smaller."

That's what 16 Dallas high schoolers are attempting this week at an engineering camp run by Southern Methodist University. The all-boys group has five days to produce its own invention from start to finish. These guys aren't the typical scientists-in-the-making.

London Morris, Alexandro Bustamante, Chan Thawng Hnin and Jovan Cain are working in a group that's designing an alarm clock that they say will "change the game." Right now, it's just a wooden box with holes etched into it for USB ports, an electric plug and speakers. But they're confident they'll finish by their deadline.

But a lot of this is new to the students: They’re using Python coding language and Raspberry Pi hardware to configure the alarm clock. Some have minor experience with coding, but nothing this complex.

"I'm still in uncharted territory," Morris admits.

Most have little or no experience with 3D printing, soldering or coding. Beyond that, most have never set foot on a college campus prior to this camp, says the program's director, Heather Hankamer.

The university is holding five weeks of summer camps for junior high and high school students, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. While a paid version of the engineering camp costs nearly $1,200 per camper, all 16 students attending this one go for free.

The students, who will be juniors or seniors in the fall, are mostly from South Dallas. Another engineering camp for girls takes place July 17-21.

Campers are chosen from a pool of applicants based on financial need and a "spark" of interest in engineering, said Hankamer.

Read the full story.