Kettering University Career Camp

Aug 15, 2011

Two Kettering professors launch Career Camp to help 8th through 11th graders understand what it's like to live in the skin of a scientist or an engineer.

Every student hears some variation of the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ throughout their youth. As they get closer to college, however, it becomes more necessary to think about career possibilities in a more specific way as they try to plan their post-high school studies. The problem is many students simply don’t have a good idea about potential careers and how to attain them at that age.

It was with that concept in mind that Kettering University professors Dr. Stacy Seeley (Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry) and Dr. Pat Atkinson (Mechanical Engineering) developed Kettering’s first Science and Engineering Career Exploration camp for students in 8th-11th grades in July. Both professors also offered more than just their professional knowledge when developing the camp: both also have teenage students wrestling with the very same decisions as those attending the camp.

“The beauty of the camp is that it was developed by faculty who have teenagers at home,” Seeley said. “I have a son who is 14 and is great in math and science, but he doesn’t have a good idea of what he wants to do with those skills or what careers are out there, and I think a lot of kids are in that same situation.”

The camp not only gave the 30 students who attended camp the opportunity to explore Kettering’s campus and meet faculty, but it gave them the chance to learn about different types of jobs in the science and engineering fields.

“Our goal was to help kids understand what it’s like to live in the skin of a scientist or an engineer,” Atkinson said. “We wanted to inspire the kids to pursue a career that is most aligned with their interests.”

The five-day camp gave the students a taste of what Kettering has to offer. Students spent specific days learning about Bio-Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry. They spent time in the classroom with many Kettering faculty members and also got hands-on experience in Kettering’s world class laboratories.

“They (the students) were blown away by the facilities,” Atkinson said. “To be able to actually walk into a lab, turn wrenches or knobs and experiment on things was a great experience for them.”

Students in attendance learned how to analyze DNA, how to program a robot, how to energize powertrains, how to create green/clean fuels, how to design mobile applications, how to do simulated surgical repairs and how to make cars safer, among other things. All of the activities were designed to not only expose students to things they might enjoy pursuing as a career, but also to help inform them about the career itself. Faculty discussed education requirements, pay scale, employment rate and other aspects that could influence students’ choices.

“We wanted to give students a sampling of multiple science and engineering fields,” said Seeley, adding that Kettering plans to continue doing the career exploration camp on a yearly basis. “It’s difficult to just tell kids what is out there career-wise. This camp gave them a chance to experience it firsthand.”

Contact: Patrick Hayes