About 50 middle school students from a Las Vegas public school technical academy kicked off the summer with a three-day stay at an engineering students camp in Mount Vernon, Wash. All facilities and activities were tailored to the students from Northwest Career & Technical Academy, a privately funded Clark County school district magnet program, if they met one criteria—they must be female.
The school and its engineering program were founded in 2007 by the National Academy Foundation, Project Lead The Way, and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc.

The camp was launched a year later when school director David Phillipi brought the idea to the attention of Jean Hoppert, the local chapter president of the Society of Women Engineers, who designed the three-day workshop that is now in its seventh year.

“I wanted to do an engagement activity to promote engineering to eighth grade or younger females,” says Phillipi.

The program allows the girls to take part in several projects, such as building a model doghouse, making an electric circuit board and designing a more efficient paper clip. While the camp is only open to middle school girls, high school students are invited to attend as volunteers.

Emilee Resop, now a civil engineering student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was a volunteer at the camp in 2014. “The camp allowed me to explore other branches of engineering, such as, electrical and chemical, through small experiments using circuit boards and chemical reactions,” she says. “This strengthened my interest in the broad subject as well as inspired me to share my interest with the younger students taking part in the camp.”

Ally Krenos, a two-time volunteer, appreciated the opportunity provided by the camp to interact with professional engineers.

“By volunteering at the camp, I was able to meet a lot of real life engineers and I got to talk with them which did make me more excited about becoming an engineer,” said Krenos, a senior at the Las Vegas technical academy.