It's always summer for Engineering's Summer Camps

New director plans out a busy 2013 for successful program.

10/22/2012 | By: John Trent  |

Just a quick visit to Elyse Bozsik's office on the first floor of the Sarah Fleischmann Building at the University of Nevada, Reno, even in October, reveals a key fact.

It's always summer for this good-natured, energetic person who smiles often and who has been in charge of the College of Engineering's successful Summer Camp program since June.

Although the camps won't be held again until June and July 2013, Bozsik is already in the thick of planning.

Her everyday routine, in fact, is focused on finding ways to honor the camps' long history of success, while also developing new programming that will enhance the campers' experience.

 "We have some amazing kids who come to campus during our campus," Bozsik said. "It's very exciting to see their excitement as they learn and experience first-hand what engineering is all about."

The numbers and popularity of the program are impressive. The five camps, with 22 spots for each (two introductory camps for ages 12 to 15, one civil engineering camp for ages 13 to 18, one computer science camp for ages 13 to 18, one transportation camp) are routinely sold out.

"The camps have had such a wonderful start and are pillars in the community," said Bozsik, who is quick to credit the work of her predecessor, Debbie Delauer, in building such a strong foundation of awareness and participation. "We've been lucky enough to have waiting lists. We can only take so many, and there's a cap on our enrollment."

And yet, Bozsik said, there is a clear need for more.

"We've gotten great feedback from the parents," said Bozsik, who previously was in donor relations in the department of intercollegiate athletics at the University. "They love to see their kids having so much fun with engineering. A lot of our parents are clamoring for more."

To that end, Bozsik said plans are in the works for a "Girls in Engineering" camp, which would feature not only mentors from the College of Engineering's faculty, but female engineering leaders from the community. Bozsik said she thinks the need for such a specialized camp is there - last year, 30 young women attended the camps.

"In the STEM fields right now, it's a great time for girls to learn that they can succeed in these fields," said Bozsik, who holds a master's degree in secondary education from the University. "To be able to show girls that engineering can be an exciting, amazing and lucrative field is a really worthwhile goal. We're thinking (a Girls in Engineering camp) will get them excited."

In addition to her duties organizing the summer camps, Bozsik is also the coordinator of the College of Engineering's Mobile Engineering Education Lab. She employs the college's students and sends them to local elementary schools for engineering outreach, lessons and demonstrations. The Mobile Engineering Lab, which dates back to the 20th century, is becoming more of a decidedly 21st century teaching tool. Bozsik said work is underway in developing new curricula and demonstrations in renewable energy and nanotechnology fields, complete with fun hands-on work with wind turbines and solar panels.

"It's an old program, but it's still going strong," Bozsik said, adding that the ultimate compliment is always paid to the Mobile Engineering Lab when year-in and year-out, certain teachers request that the college's students and their van full of interesting material pay them yet another visit.

"Giving these teachers new material is always nice," Bozsik said of one of the reasons why renewable and nanotech information is being added to the Mobile Engineering Lab's offerings.

Bozsik said during her time directing the summer camps and supervising the Mobile Engineering Lab, it's become obvious that people are extremely loyal to the college's outreach efforts.

She said she's seen this phenomenon in other ways as well.  One of her student employees is a former Engineering Summer Camper, which tells Bozsik that the Summer Camps are doing what they are supposed to.

"We're in the outreach and retention business," she said, adding the camps offer scholarships for students who might not otherwise afford the tuition. "That's the beauty of what the camps do. We bring these young students to our campus, and a lot of them haven't been on a college campus before. They learn about the engineering, the College of Engineering, and this University.

"It's a great way to show what we're all about."

For Bozsik - who never hesitates to acknowledge the work of others, whether it's the effort of her student employees, the college's faculty who participate in the camps, the support and vision of College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis, the foundation set by her predecessor, Delauer, or the spirit and enthusiasm of the young campers themselves - it's not surprising that every day is like summer for her.

She is, after all, in a job she loves.

"This is an absolutely perfect job," she said. "I'm excited about our future."


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