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Camp ExciTES Future Engineers


Lauren Duran and Alexis Garcia were among the 40 El Paso-area students who participated in this week’s ExciTES engineering summer camp.
Photo courtesy of Chad Puerling
Lauren Duran, left, and Alexis Garcia
work on their cardboard canoe Wednesday
afternoon in the Engineering Breezeway. They were
among the 40 El Paso-area students who participated
in this week’s ExciTES engineering summer camp.
Low murmurs of activity were broken by waves of laughter as middle- and high-school students crafted cardboard canoes this week in the Engineering Breezeway.

The activity was part of a weeklong ExciTES engineering camp that included the design and construction of model cars, straw towers and personal computers.

The 40 participants spent most of June 18 in the design and assembly of the canoes with little more than cardboard sheets, glue, packing tape and their own collective ingenuity.

In many ways, the last component – teamwork – was the most important, said Alex Gonzalez, a College of Engineering student ambassador.

Devin Lawson worked meticulously on his team’s cardboard canoe in hopes of earning top marks from the judges.

Photo courtesy of UTEP

Devin Lawson worked meticulously
on his team’s cardboard canoe
in hopes of earning top
marks from the judges.





“These exercises help (participants) learn how engineers work together,” he said. “They help the students to develop their minds.”

Several participants said they had learned that lesson. They realized that even if they did not have a good idea to share, they could help develop the ideas of their teammates to produce a better result.

“It helps when you work with other people,” Eric Joshua Moreno said. He will enter the 7th grade at Brown Middle School in the fall.

Moreno said that sharing ideas helped his team design the best miniature car made out of a piece of cardboard, compact discs and a rubber band.

“It’s fun to do hands-on activities,” said Alexis Garcia, 12, who will enter the eighth grade at Sanchez Middle School in the fall.

The team of Garcia, Moreno, Lauren Duran of Eastwood High School, and Steven Reed of Cathedral High School, put together a canoe that reminded some ambassadors of those used in the animated film “Pocahontas.”

The student teams will test their cardboard canoes during a race at the Swimming and Fitness Center this week. Engineering ambassadors, such as Gonzalez, will judge the entries in seven categories including design, buoyancy calculations and how they place. The top three finishers will earn medals.

Harmen Schroots, left, Jesus Herrera, center, and Jose Silva, right, enjoyed working as a team on their cardboard canoe.

Photo courtesy of UTEP

Harmen Schroots, left,
Jesus Herrera, center, and Jose Silva, right,
enjoyed working as a team on their cardboard canoe.

ExciTES, which stands for Excellence in Technology, Engineering and Science, has grown a lot since it started about five years ago with four ambassadors. Today, 14 ambassadors coordinate camps and visit high schools to do hands-on activities such as building solar cookers with shoe boxes and aluminum foil and developing ways to protect an egg dropped from a roof.

The program even goes to some summer school sessions around the city to make things more convenient for those students who cannot attend the UTEP camps, said Asha Garcia, an ExciTES coordinator who will be a junior engineering student in the fall.

Information: www.utep.edu/excites or 915-747-8822.

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– Daniel Perez

Horizons Online News. Citing Internet Resources. [Online], June 20, 2008.