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Duggan Academy Students Enjoy Engineering Camp

TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016 - 2:33 PM Engineering , All News

“As a nation we are moving toward a STEM economy”

Duggan Academy Computer Camp

Middle school students from John J. Duggan Academy in Springfield recently explored some engineering basics at a week-long summer program hosted by Dr. Neeraj Magotra, chair and associate professor of electrical engineering at Western New England University. Duggan Academy is an Expeditionary Learning through Social Justice Magnet school for students in grades 6 to 12, that emphasizes active learning, and teamwork. 

Engineering is one component of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), which can be used to create valuable changes in the realm of social justice, the theme on which Duggan Academy curriculum is often focused. This project-based program is designed and sponsored by Texas Instruments.

“As a nation we are moving toward a STEM economy,” explained Dr. Neeraj Magotra. “We’ve discovered that the younger you start students down the STEM path, the better. There is still quite a disparity between men and women in engineering, and we now know that if you just start introducing these concepts earlier on, that the gender gap significantly decreases.” Dr. Magotra was pleased with the “good mix of boys and girls registered for his summer camp.” 

During the week, the students worked on operating a fan whose speed could be controlled by adjusting the code on the computer. “There are codes to make the fan work, like if you want to make it go counterclockwise or faster, there are codes to make it do that,” explained Tyshawn, a sixth grader.

Some student pairs decided to embellish their fan. “We’ve put in LED lights so that it lights up and moves at the same time,” said Elisha Whitaker, a sixth grader working with fellow sixth grader Asliyo Ali. (photo right)

“I might go into engineering in the future,” said an inspired Elijah Dailey, who worked with Jose Gonzalez, both sixth graders, and enjoyed the hands-on element of the camp. 

“Next summer, we’re going to do two week-long programs instead of just one because the word has spread among the students that this is pretty fun stuff,” said Dr. Magotra.