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The College of Engineering’s summer enrichment programs are in full swing at UT, and Eastman is proving once again to be a vital partner.

The Fortune 300 company, headquartered close by in Kingsport, is providing support for the camps and the college for another summer, this time sponsoring the High School Introduction to Engineering Systems for 12th Graders—or HITES 12—from July 12 to 17.

Through the camp, rising high school seniors get a chance to come to UT and see what engineering, the college, and the university itself have to offer.

“This is a way for us to highlight what UT is all about and to showcase some of the specific things we do here in the College of Engineering,” said Travis Griffin, the director of engineering diversity programs, who oversees the camps.

“We talk to them about college life, about our departments, and about what it’s like to be a student here, in addition to the instruction they get from our faculty.”

The HITES 12 camp introduces students to aerospace, biomedical, biomolecular, chemical, electrical, mechanical and nuclear engineering, as well as computer science.

Faculty from those departments give students hands-on experience in several high-profile projects, ranging from modeling cancer to developing robots.

“The scenarios students choose to get involved with also bring home the real-world seriousness of the work that engineers do,” Griffin explained.

For example, Lawrence Heilbronn, an associate professor in nuclear engineering, has developed a CSI-like scenario where students taking part in his session will wade into the fictional aftermath of a nuclear device being detonated in New York City, using techniques and equipment to figure out the proverbial “whodunit.”

Also of note, computer science associate professor Garret Rose has developed a course on cryptography and designing hardware to encrypt messages and data, a topic made all the more important by the recent breaches of data at Target, Home Depot, and the IRS.

“The goal of this week is to show these kids that engineering means a lot of different things, all of which touch upon multiple aspects of the modern world,” said Griffin.

Showing various aspects of engineering is also important for Eastman, which views the camp as a way to help the College of Engineering maintain its edge and attract top talent.

“It’s important for us, as a company headquartered in East Tennessee, to have a strong pool of potential employees in our area,” said Etta Clark, vice president of global public affairs and policy at Eastman. “Helping ensure that UT has world-class programs benefits both the college and our ability to hire the best and brightest talent in the region.”

As part of the camp, students will visit Eastman’s operations and global headquarters in Kingsport and have a chance to see some of the engineering fundamentals they’ve been introduced to in practice.

In addition to engineering knowledge, the camp also introduces students to student living, university housing, and how to apply for grants and financial aid.


Kim Cowart (865-974-0686 or