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Engineering Summer Program brings in the best and brightest

It's been a very busy summer for 20 high school juniors and seniors on the COE campus. They recently completed seven weeks of intensive study, touring, hands on training and eye-opening seminars from faculty, staff and industry.

It's all part of the Engineering Summer Program (ESP) for high school students of color sponsored by the college's Diversity Affairs Office. The program prepares participants for admission to institutions of higher education, particularly UW-Madison. Specifically, ESP helps students of color develop the mathematical and communication skills needed to succeed in the College of Engineering. The program continually gains support from industry, alumni, government and educators.

Henderson assists students at ESP

(From left to right) Michael Johannes, Associate Professor Douglass L. Henderson, Eric Edmonds and Seema Talwalker experiment with a device for measuring lung capacity in the Biomedical Engineering Lab. (large image)

Associate Professor of Engineering Physics Douglass L. Henderson mentors the students through the program. He says he sees a change in the students from the time they come until the time they leave.

"It opens doors for them," Henderson says. "They begin to see the differences between civil and industrial engineering or chemical and electrical. Some also begin to see the possibilities of all the things that can be done. It's a bit overwhelming, but that's good because the idea is to open their eyes so they can consider what is out there. It creates a hunger for engineering."

Anthony Prsaud will be a high school senior this fall in Puerto Rico. He gives the program high marks and says that overall it was a great experience. He especially liked the hands-on approach and the visits from practicing engineers.

"I really appreciated the people coming in and telling us what they do for a living," Prsaud says. "I was able to listen to them and think, do I really want to do that for a living? That has helped me make a decision about what I would like to study."

Assistant Dean Alem Asres of the Diversity Affairs Office says he is extremely pleased with the program's success rate, measured by the number of seniors who ultimately enroll in the College of Engineering. This is the third year for the program. Of six seniors in the 1996 program, three enrolled in COE. Of 16 seniors in last year's program, ten applied to the college. Asres is confident that eight or nine will enroll.

"We're getting 50-plus percent," Asres says. "I'm very excited about that."