Western Engineering Summer Academy counselor Mackenzie Atkinson

Explore engineering with the Western Engineering Summer Academy

Western Engineering News | June 29, 2012

By Heather Travis

Sarah DeDecker and Mackenzie Atkinson know what it is like to be on the other side of the coin. They both participated in Western Engineering’s Summer Academy and now are helping mentor high school youth as counselors of the program.

The Western Engineering Summer Academy offers four weeks of enrichment courses for students Grades 9-12 in the areas of biomedical, software, green and mechanical engineering.

Like many of the students they will be welcoming to the academy the third-year chemical engineering students were interested in science and math, but were unsure about opportunities in engineering. The academy offers a window in the various streams of engineering.

“I loved my experience going to the academy,” said DeDecker, who participated in the biomedical engineering program two years ago. “I’ve always wanted to do my master’s in biomedical engineering, so I thought it was a great opportunity to see what it is like in the real world.

“It just kind-of opens your eyes to all the opportunities out there and all the things you can do in engineering.”

For example, the Green Engineering Course, led by Chemical and Biochemical Engineering assistant professor Lars Rehmann, will provide students with a broad perspective of the types of research carried out in this field, as well as the current challenges this research faces.

The goals is to “provide students with a perspective relating to the current environmental and energy challenges of the 21st century and what solutions green research can and cannot potentially provide,” said Rehmann.

Participants will be challenged with projects on bio-ethanol production and analysis, fabrication of solar cell materials, fabrication of microwire devices, applications of superhydrophobic surfaces and bio-diesel production and analysis.

Western Engineering offers the first Green Process Engineering program in Canada. Incorporating it into the Western Engineering Summer Academy offers a unique experience for youth to learn more about this growing field of research and study.

The Western Engineering Summer Academy provides an opportunity for students to experience university life and lectures, as well as get hands-on lab experience.

“I liked the lectures; they were at a level that challenged me,” DeDecker said. “It is at a level you can understand and it is still interesting and you want to learn about it.”

“It was really cool to see the graduate laboratories and see what work they are doing and what one day we could be doing ourselves,” added Atkinson.

The counselors helped bridge the gap between high school and university, he said, noting his friendships with them continued once he became a Western Engineering student himself.

Participating in the Summer Academy “made my decision more comfortable because I knew I made the right one” to enroll at Western, he said.

Atkinson is looking forward to the opportunity to give back as an upper-year student mentor to show what Western Engineering has to offer.

“Getting to see the students who are already in the program give back to high school students and getting them excited made me want to do the same thing,” he said.

Registration is still open for many of the programs. Click here for more information or to register.

Check out photos of the hands-on activities held in previous years.


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.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
T: .519.850.2917
F: 519.661.3808