The Office of Engineering Diversity Programs initiated the first ever summer pre-college program in 1997 when it introduced Middle School Introduction to Engineering (MITE). James Pippin, former program director of the office, said the program’s goal was to introduce middle school students to engineering and recruit high school students to the college.
Today, the office hosts four different programs which include Engineering VOLunteers for Ninth Graders (eVOL9), Engineering VOLunteers for Tenth Graders (eVOL10), High School Introduction to Engineering Systems for 11th Graders (HITES11), and High School Introduction to Engineering Systems for 12th Graders (HITES12).
The goal is to spark an interest in engineering through hands-on activities and allow students to explore career opportunities, by participating in classes, dining in student dining halls, and living in student residence halls. The programs also offer students the ability to familiarize themselves with UT and the Tickle College of Engineering.
“While I was at HITES, we toured every engineering facility and many faculty members spoke to us about their respective departments,” said Irfan Ibrahim, a nuclear engineering major from Sevierville, Tennessee.
“This was great in that we could all see what each engineering field was about and also see what types of careers people have in them.”
The pre-college programs also prepared students like Annette Robbins, a nuclear engineering major from Chattanooga, for the rigors of college once they arrive.
“HITES12 prepared me for the incoming workload from Engineering Fundamentals and how to standardize the homework in an engineering format, they helped me understand the engineer’s way of thinking—critical thinking,” said Robbins.
To date, the programs have provided a summer engineering experience to over 1,000 middle and high school students. Amongst those students are plenty of success stories of students who continued forward through the programs into the college, like Jamie Anderson-Porter, who went from pre-college to a PhD in nuclear engineering. She is now a senior radiation engineer in the Space Exploration Sector at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
“Jamie Anderson was the first female African-American student to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a PhD in nuclear engineering,” Pippin said.
This year marks a change for the eVOL9 program. It will move to a three-day conference style setting.
“The goal is to expand this opportunity to 100 students,” said Travis Griffin, program director of the college’s Office of Diversity Programs. “In addition, we will provide educational workshops for their parent or guardian and teachers. The important concerns associated with the program are improving the student experience to discover engineering, ACT preparation, and educating parents and teachers of the expectations of an engineering student.”
The new setting for the conference will also serve as a pilot program for potential future expansion.
“When the eVOL9 conference proves to be a successful model, we plan to make it mobile to provide the engineering experience in other major Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis,” said Griffin.
The college will expand the eVOL10 and HITES12 summer experiences. These experiences will be lead by our assistant director, Ms. Jalonda N. Thompson starting summer 2018.