CET Hosts Annual STEM Camp

ECU’s 2018 STEM Camp focused on computer technology and coding. Both were used to operate robots.

Thanks to a $35,000 grant from Duke Energy, ECU hosted a residential STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp that focused specifically on computer technology, computer programming and management information systems.

Twelve middle school girls from eastern North Carolina participated in the camp, which was organized by both ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology (CET) and College of Business (COB). For the first time since the inception of the ECU STEM camp,  these students were joined by middle school and high school teachers. Camp organizers said having the teachers involved will help them share with their students the latest in STEM-related technologies and industry applications.

“ECU and both colleges are grateful for Duke Energy’s support for the third consecutive year in helping us raise STEM awareness to young ladies,” said Dr. Mark Angolia, CET professor and camp co-organizer. “This year’s program has taken a huge step forward by including public school educators. The camp continues our commitment to providing opportunities for everyone interested in STEM career pathways.”

David Fountain, Duke Energy

“We are proud to partner with ECU to expand access to STEM programming for girls and teachers in eastern North Carolina,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “Smart investments in STEM initiatives strengthen the pipeline of highly-skilled workers who will lead us to a smarter energy future in North Carolina.”

Activities during this year’s ECU STEM Camp included:

  • Education and training to build, use and take home a mini-computer (Raspberry Pi).
  • Coding of the Raspberry Pi to operate a robot.
  • An introduction to 3D printing.
  • Academic sessions that cover computer programming using a 3D animation language (Alice) and webpage building using WebStarts.
  • A field trip to Cisco Systems in Durham.

Jayden Chavis, left, builds a robot with Steve Baker, STEM Camp instructor. Also pictured, right, is Olyvia Ashmore.

Donna Phillips, senior economic development manager for Duke Energy, opened this year’s camp with remarks and expressed excitement in seeing all the young ladies at the camp. During her comments, she advised the participants that there are jobs in North Carolina that “we don’t know that are getting ready to happen. Stay focused on the current trends.”

Thirteen-year-old Jayden Chavis is a middle schooler from Robinson County. This year’s STEM camp was her first. However, this was not her first foray into understanding the concept of STEM. When asked about her future career, she said, “I want to do coding.” She particularly wants to focus on cyber security.

“When people try to break into your computer, I think it’s better when you have more people fighting against it so they (hackers) don’t get into your personal information,” said Chavis.

Emily Nelson

Emily Nelson is a STEM science teacher at Greene Central High School. This is her first time attending a residential STEM camp, and she was excited to see the experience the girls (camp attendees) are receiving. Nelson also likes the fact that the camp is all-female.

“They’re getting exposed to a lot of things,” said Nelson. “With it (the camp) being all females, they’re seeing teachers as teaching leaders and learning alongside them.”

Dr. April Reed, COB professor and camp co-organizer, hopes the exposure to new technologies and collaborating with teams stays with the students.

“Recent research from Accenture and Girls Who Code shows two interesting points: computing skills that focus on coding are one of the most sought-after skills in the American job market, and the women’s share of the U.S. computing workforce is declining,” said Reed. “This camp, thanks to Duke Energy, is an investment in our future.”

Millie Chalk of Duke Energy presents a $35,000 grant check to this year’s participants of ECU’s STEM Camp.