UNT WISE Summer Camps engage students with disabilities in STEM

A new camp geared towards teaching young adults with disabilities about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) kicked off this week at the University of North Texas.

Funded by the Texas Workforce Commission-Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the camps are part of a collaboration between UNT WISE, a program based out of the College of Health and Public Service, and the College of Engineering.

"UNT WISE’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. We know that STEM careers offer great opportunity, so we want to increase students with disabilities access to STEM education. Our ultimate goal is to open up their world of possibilities and get them excited about in-demand occupations where their experience and perspective brings great value," said Lucy Gafford, UNT WISE director.

This year, UNT WISE offers two summer camp programs for students to choose from.

The Virtual Explore STEM! Summer Program, which runs from July 19 through July 30, focuses on computer science, computer and electrical engineering, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, soldering and the Internet of Things (IoT). Twenty students will use an artificial intelligence Google kit to create a voice-activated lamp. They will have the opportunity to learn programming, hardware assembly, circuit design, computer-aided design and 3D printing. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe, along with UNT students, industry professionals and Aaron Bangor, Chair of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and the Central Texas Business Leadership Network and Peyton Schroeder, Mechanical Engineering student intern at Medtronix.

The STEM Maker Summer Camp – Aug. 2-6 – will engage students in electronics, software engineering, woodworking and workshop skills, automotive design and civil and mechanical engineering. Students participating in this camp will learn the basics of electricity, robotics programming, basic shop safety and tool use, infrastructure design and build, and the importance aerodynamics plays in automotive design.

"Increasing accessibility to STEM programs is very important to us at the College of Engineering and is reflective the Diversity and Excellence in Engineering Network’s goal of intentional inclusion," said Nandika D'Souza, associate dean for undergraduate studies at the College of Engineering. "Drs. Stephanie Ludi, Robin Pottathuparambil, Gayatri Mehta and I very much enjoy creating and implementing these camps and seeing how STEM can really engage a student’s creativity and problem-solving skills and, hopefully, create a future engineer."