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For most kids, summer means a break from structured learning. But for a group of middle- and high school students, summer is the perfect time to learn all about robotics, design, and computing.

UT’s College of Engineering is offering a series of camps designed to educate, entertain, and draw the interest of budding engineers.

Part of the college’s summer enrichment programs, the camps each last one week and are geared toward a specific grade, ranging from rising seventh graders all the way through high school.

“We work with faculty and researchers in the college and at the university to make sure we can provide students with a wide array of material and lessons,” said Engineering Diversity Programs Office Director Travis Griffin, who oversees the camps.

“By having that mix, and by getting feedback and support from some of our area’s leading businesses, we are able to showcase what a career in engineering can be, and at the same time have them get familiar with our campus and what being at a college is like.”

This summer, Volkswagen, through its Chattanooga operations, is supporting a pair of the camps—Engineering Volunteers for 9th Graders and the High School Introduction to Engineering Systems for 11th Graders, or EVol 9 and HITES 11, respectively.

“We are excited about this expansion of our partnership with UT’s College of Engineering,” said Scott Wilson, head of communications with Volkswagen Chattanooga. “These summer camps reflect our deep commitment to education and the STEM-related fields that we teach in our Volkswagen Academy.

“I think great adventures lie ahead for the students in these programs.”

At the middle school camp, students will be introduced to the basics of engineering and elements of design, while the high school camp will focus primarily on design and computing.

One such section of the HITES 11 camps will be led by a true icon of computing—Mark Dean. Dean, the John Fisher Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of several international halls of fame, will share his expertise with campers in the form of developing autonomous robots.

Other sections include robotics used in health care, developing software, and even a section led by Assistant Professor Stella Sun on developing hacker-proof websites that the students will then try to hack.

Attendees get non-engineering instruction as well, with the EVol 9 group receiving instruction on preparing for the ACT and the HITES 11 students gaining insight into Advanced Placement curricula.

This year’s camps will include students from as far away as Texas and Illinois.

“We’re definitely growing and heading in the right direction,” said Griffin. “This is by far the largest group of applicants we’ve had.”

From UT’s perspective, the evolution and growth of automotive research and manufacturing in the state is a tremendous opportunity, even more so for the College of Engineering.

With Volkswagen being a key industrial influence in Tennessee and with UT being recognized as the state’s primary public research institution, collaboration comes naturally.

“Volkswagen’s commitment to Tennessee’s economy and its recognition of the critical need to enhance workforce development efforts, innovation, and diversity initiatives in STEM education mirror some of those same efforts in our College of Engineering,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “Strategic multidimensional partnerships like this are vital as we continue our quest to educate the country’s emerging engineers and extend pioneering research capabilities.”

The EVol 9 camp runs June 14–19, while the HITES 11 takes place July 19–24.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,