Lamar Introduction to Engineering summer camp ‘illuminates the curiosity’ in youth

Since 2014, Lamar University has inspired a love of engineering in the area’s youth. Last week, the university hosted its Lamar Introduction to Engineering, or LITE, summer camp for 7th and 8th graders.

With insight from industry experts, experiments and a trip to NASA, camp participants got an inside look into engineering.

“A trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center is always a highlight of LITE camp,” said Dr. Tracy Benson, chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “However, this year’s camp also had several area companies, including ExxonMobil, Motiva, Total Energies and BASF, who worked in small groups with the campers. Each company brought several of their engineers who used experiments to develop engineering skills within the campers.”LITE Camp

This partnership with companies in the region is beneficial to both the students and the College of Engineering, Benson said.

“The corporate sponsorships allow LU’s College of Engineering to host the LITE camp at no charge to campers, allowing us to capture a larger pool of potential engineering students,” he noted. “In addition, area companies provide engineers and hands-on activities that build self-esteem within the campers as they accomplish goals.”

Benson said that the annual LITE summer camp also gives students a glimpse into a future career and the many roles that engineers play — from design and optimization to plant managers and corporate CEOs.

“Through hands-on activities, they learn through experiment and data collection, which is essential in STEM education and careers,” he added. “Campers also learn how to work as a team to accomplish common goals. Teamwork is a critical skillset that is centered around diversity and inclusion, being sure that everyone’s input is valued.”

For Benson, encouraging young students to become engineers is truly one of the greatest highlights of his career, he said.

“Engineers play major roles in our everyday lives and we need more and more engineers as our everyday lives become more technologically advanced,” Benson noted. “Scientific curiosity is the backbone of engineering. The LITE summer camp is designed to illuminate the curiosity within each of these young students.”

For more information about the Lamar Introduction to Engineering summer camp, visit the College of Engineering’s website.