How do you encourage a bright, diverse STEM workforce for the future? The IEEE Student Branch at Texas A&M University in Kingsville (TAMUK) has an answer. They are collaborating with the Boys and Girls Club of Kingsville on the Saturday Engineering Academy, a three-semester academic enrichment program to nurture the science and engineering interests of minority and low-income students in Kingsville, located south of Corpus Christi.
The TAMUK Student Branch obtained an EPICS in IEEE grant of $6,600 for the program, which is considered a first in this community where STEM-related studies need bolstering. Nearly 60 students are meeting for eight Saturday afternoon classes each semester, learning about technology in modules designed to stimulate curiosity and innovation. The modules are based on nature-inspired engineering design and include: a flapping wing mechanism, a motor-free sun tracking device, and an electronic ear based on artificial neural networks in an advanced module. IEEE Student Branch members are the instructors, with students from H.M. King High School in Kingsville assisting for extra credit in their engineering-related classes.