SITE camp wraps up after three sessions

Daniel Ingram

The University of Alabama’s SITE, or Student Introduction to Engineering, program finished up it’s third and final week on Thursday, July 24 with high school juniors and seniors putting to use what they had learned.

The camp is held in three sessions every July and gives participants the chance to get a real-life glimpse of this field while living on campus for a week as an engineering college student.

Sandy Wood, a university instructor who works with the program, said SITE is geared towards introducing and initiating rising high school students into college life and presenting what it’s like to pursue the career of an engineer.

“They take an English class, math class, computer science class and of course an engineering class,” Wood said. “And so the engineering design project is designed so that they have to keep a log book on the project. They have to turn a technical report, because you don’t get paid by a client until an engineer turns in a report. You need to document your work as an engineer.”

The SITE program immerses potential college attendees into the life of an engineering student, but it also helps participants decide whether or not the career is the one to pursue.

“It’s a good way for them to understand what they want to do,” Wood said. “But also, it teaches them that because in engineering we have to work in teams, there’s no way they could complete this project without working as a team. “

Wood said the program stresses teamwork and time management in ways that prepare students for a career in the real world. Campers begin their week at 8 a.m. on Monday morning and are responsible for a finished project by the time Friday rolls around.

In addition to teaching personal skills, SITE also exposes students to engineering in action during their stay at the university.

Coordinator of Student Recruitment Lynsey Dill said part of the program also focuses on having students take a trip to an industrial plant, as well as witnessing engineering in action on campus.

“This year, we visited Mercedes, and the students had an opportunity to shadow engineers on the factory floor of Mercedes and see every phase of the car manufacturing process,” Dill said. “In addition, our SITE students observe demonstrations and see labs in each of the disciplines of engineering, so they can best understand the differences between each.”

The SITE program opens its arms to high school students who are interested in the STEM programs, have an interest in math and science or just want to find out if engineering is the right fit for them.

Greg Singleton, director of engineering student services, said that the main qualification is simply an interest in the field of engineering.

“There is no ACT/SAT score or GPA requirement. No student is denied,” Singleton said.

On Thursday of each session, the students put use what they learned throughout the week by showcasing their marshmallow launcher designs in a distance competition.

Wood said the classes and skills the students learn throughout the week help them build a machine of their own design, test them and write a technical report the way that professional engineers do.

“This is the total culmination of design. Everything that they’ve done in computer science, math, English, and the engineering design class, it all comes together.”