Women in Engineering Camp Facilitates Relationship Building

August 30, 2012

WIE campers cheer on a teammate during the Freshman Orientation Camp.
Campers cheer on a teammate using the rope swing at the "Tarzan" station at Allerton Park 4-H Memorial Camp's Challenge Course during Women in Engineering's Freshman Orientation Camp.
Women participating in the WIE Freshman Orientation Camp gather at Loomis Lab for an introductory session.
Women participating in the WIE Freshman Orientation Camp gather at Loomis Lab for an introductory session..

On Monday, August 20th, 200+ women enrolled in the College of Engineering at Illinois converged on Loomis Lab for breakfast and orientation sessions, then toured campus and experienced relationship building at Allerton Park as a part of the Women in Engineering Freshman Orientation Camp. According to Angie Wolters, Assistant Director of Women in Engineering, the purpose of the camp was to "engage them, introduce them to the College of Engineering on campus, and give them an opportunity to all come together and create a cohort for their incoming freshman class of women."

WIE camper climbs the tall wall with the help of her teammates.
WIE camper climbs the tall wall with the help of teammates.

The overarching goal of Women in Engineering (WIE), according to Wolters, is the recruiting and retention of women in the College of Engineering. A part of Engineering's Undergraduate Programs Office, WIE addresses recruiting through programs like GAMES camp, which, along with outreach, is part of its recruiting pipeline. WIE's recruiting goal: get girls interested in STEM and, specifically, in engineering. Regarding the other branch of WIE's goal—retention—one of the important programs that just took place is the WIE Freshman Orientation Camp. Participating in WIE camp allows the girls to move onto campus on Sunday, four days before official move-in on Thursday, using the extra time to get acclimated and build relationships with other freshman women.

After breakfast and early registration on Monday morning, the potential women engineers filled Loomis Lab's giant lecture hall for a welcome session, which included orientation sessions about what college is going to be like, how to be successful in the classroom, and valuable lessons learned by current upperclassmen, in hopes that the "rookies" can avoid making the same mistakes.

Later that day, the girls bussed 20 miles to the Allerton Park 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello; they spent Monday night eating s'mores around a campfire and getting to know one another. Tuesday was devoted to building relationships and taking teamwork principles they learned on the challenge course and applying them to future situations on campus and in the classroom.

WIE camper uses the rope swing station, while teammates wait to catch her.
Teammates wait to catch fellow camper on the "Tarzan" station's rope swing.

WIE leader Val Laguna, an engineering senior who helped plan and run the camp, felt that the camp met its goals of relationship building: "I think it's been really successful so far. And I'm really excited for this year. All the counselors seem to be really engaged, and the campers seem to be taking initiative to get to know each other…But the campers this year seem especially engaged…I think it is a combination of how the schedule is set up, as well as the quality of the counselors that we have this year, and just general enthusiasm. Hopefully we're instilling the energy they'll need to step into the school year. They're getting a lot of resources. We're going to do a student panel later to ask questions, and we're going to do a short presentation: "Here are some of the things we don't want you to forget." So I think it's going to be really good."

Val shared one other important bit of information: "T-shirt colors are being very well received, that's always our biggest concern."

Freshman campers agreed that the camp had been a positive experience. Incoming civil engineering freshman, Hannah Lohman, related that at a luncheon for women in engineering she had attended, they had recommended that she attend WIE camp, "because it's where you meet your best friends, and it just sounded like fun...and you get to move in early." So she did. Lohman believes that to "just have a group to be a part of" will be beneficial during her career at Illinois: "I think it's going to be cool to be a part of a group where everyone is going through the same thing. If I have any problems with school work, then I can just come to the older students."

WIE campers canoing.
WIE campers take advantage of the opportunity to do some canoeing.

Dani Harkins, who is currently in physics but may switch to industrial engineering, thinks the relationships she made during the camp will be important. "I think the whole thing with knowing who you can study with will be helpful… Obviously, a lot of these people are going to be in the same classes as me, and they're mostly the same intelligence level, so we'll probably need help together…Because I'm not one that likes to admit when I need help. If I need help, I can go to a peer instead of asking a professor."

Saachi Kuwayama, a freshman in general engineering, agreed that attending the camp was a great beginning to her career at Illinois. "I have high expectations. Everyone is so passionate about engineering. So I think that meeting everyone, and talking to everyone, and going to all the presentations that we've been to definitely gets me really excited. I think that my years here are going to be really good."

Story by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist,
I-STEM Education Initiative

Photos by Elizabeth Innes and Christy Glaze,
I-STEM Education Initiative

For more related stories, see: Engineering, WIE, Women in STEM, 2012

Camper on tire swing station.
Camper works to master the challenge course's "Tire Traverse" station.
Camper traversing the tire swing station on the Challenge Course.
Camper negotiating the"Tire Traverse" station on the challenge course.

SOLIDarity EXperiences (SOLIDEX) through the Eyes of Children

What do children aged 11-13 in two countries think about solidarity?
Full Story

Students launch ASL STEM Vocabulary App Company

Students launch ASL STEM Vocabulary App Company
Full Story

Innovation, Inspiration on display at the Undergraduate Research Symposium

Undergraduate Research Week took place April 23-29, 2023, and culminated Thursday, April 27, 2023
Full Story

What would you like to see – 3D printers? Magnets? Solar-powered racing cars? Robobrawl?

March 28, 2023
EOH occurs Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Full Story

Tour of Illinois’ Materials Research Lab through I-MRSEC sparks Franklin students’ interest in Materials Science

March 1, 2023
Students from the Champaign middle school had a tour of the Material Research Laboratory (MRL) in early February.
Full Story

Nobel Project’s End-of-Year Zoom Bash Recaps Learning

February 1, 2022
The STEM Illinois Nobel Project held a special, end-of-the-year Zoom event celebrating its participating students’ achievements.
Full Story

It’s not magic, it’s physics

January 26, 2022
In Franklin STEAM Academy, Musical Magnetism program makes STEM fun, approachable.
Full Story

Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.