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PCC and Self Enhancement Inc. Hook Up to Bring Youth to Engineering Camp
Photos and Story by James Hill
This summer, several Portland Community College engineering labs and classrooms will be given over to the sounds and sights of metro-area youth excited about learning how to build bridges out of spaghetti noodles or survey land on the college campus.
The first — hopefully annual — PCC-SEI Summer Interaction, will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from July 13 to August 5 at the Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave. Classes will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The summer camp is the brainstorm of Sylvania Campus engineering instructor Russell Eng, and Brian Davis, recently retired dean of engineering, mathematics and technology, to stimulate an interest in engineering with inner-city youth. Eng and Davis hooked up with Self Enhancement, Inc.’s Cornelius Williams and the idea became a reality. Other PCC faculty have signed on to help with the project, which is all volunteer.
Approximately 40 youth will participate. SEI states in its mission that it is a non-profit organization "dedicated to helping inner-city youth realize their full potential More than 50 percent of the participants are African Americans, from single-parent families living below the poverty level in inner-city North/Northeast Portland."
Of the summer camp curriculum, "We intend to make it exciting, make it hands-on," Eng said. "Frankly, we don’t have very good representation of African American students in our engineering programs at PCC. We would like to attract more ethnic minority students to our programs," he added.
In addition to model bridge building and surveying, students will also test metal until it breaks and solve engineering problems on the computer. They will also take apart 10 computers, "just to see what’s inside them," said Eng.