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MESA Students Earn Credits From Johns Hopkins
21 high school students will participate in 'What is Engineering?' summer program.

April 20, 2006

Twenty-one high school students will learn more about engineering and earn college credits this summer during a special program offered by Cal State Fullerton in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University.

"What Is Engineering?" offers students a four-week opportunity to explore various aspects of engineering through lectures on such subjects as robotics and projects that range from designing a mousetrap and digital circuits to building a bridge out of popsicle sticks.

The top two students in the program will be offered Cal State Fullerton engineering scholarships. All students who complete the program with a grade of A or B will get three credit units from Johns Hopkins University.

"The Johns Hopkins program is a great opportunity for students because it provides insight and hands-on experience in many disciplines of engineering and rewards them for their efforts by giving them college credits," said Vonna Hammerschmitt, director of the university's Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program for 6th through 12th grade.

Selected for the inaugural program are juniors and seniors from MESA programs in seven Orange County high schools. In order to be considered, they had to have grade-point-averages of at least 3.0 and completed prerequisite classes. MESA is a national organization dedicated to stimulating interest in math and science among educationally disadvantaged youths.

"High schools in California do not introduce students to the engineering profession. As a result, students choose engineering because someone told them their good math skills qualified them for an engineering career or because they are aware that engineers make good salaries," explained Raman Unnikrishnan, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

"There are a great number of students who do not choose engineering because they don't understand the profession. This summer program provides a rare and highly desirable opportunity because the students not only receive an excellent understanding of the engineering profession in general, but they also receive a solid introduction to the various branches of engineering," he added.

Prasada Rao, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, will teach the classes. He travels to Johns Hopkins University in June for program training. "My hope is that this four-week session will motivate students to pursue a university education as an engineering major," Rao said.

"Research has shown that when students are able to get excited about difficult majors, such as engineering and computer science, they perform better in those areas," Unnikrishnan explained. "The Johns Hopkins course is designed to
generate excitement about the profession among participants and provide guidance so that students may make appropriate course selection while in high school."

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