Fun-Filled Event SPARKs High School Students’ STEM Interests

Valuable connections were made across robotics and electronics projects along with visiting high school students who collaborated with Rose-Hulman students in this year’s SPARK! design event on March 12, organized by members of Rose-Hulman’s Building Undergraduate Diversity (Rose-BUD) program.

More than 50 students worked in teams to use software programming and electronic tools to design projects centered around robotics and decoding wireless communications.

For instance, one project had students learning to control a robot to pick up and deliver items – simulating robots NASA engineers have designed to explore Mars and Earth’s Moon.

“It’s fun to see the (visiting) students sharing our excitement about technology,” said Rose-BUD member Isabel Wilson, a junior computer engineering student.

Computer engineering and Rose-BUD colleague Sean Hyacinthe added, “Seeing people of diverse backgrounds who never met before coming together to share a common experience (creating projects) is an enriching experience.”

Teams with the best technical and creative designs, as determined by student judges, earned prizes provided by the Rose-BUD program.

SPARK! stands for Student Projects Advocating Resourceful Knowledge. The annual event strives to stimulate youths’ interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, regardless of their backgrounds and current future study plans in high school and college.

“We wanted to show these (visiting high school) students that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is fun and exciting,” said Lawrence J. Giacoletto Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering Carlotta Berry, PhD, Rose-BUD’s faculty advisor. “This gives them a chance to do something where they get that first taste of getting a robot to drive or getting a (Light-Emitting Diode) to blink. This shows students that contrary to what they may have heard or thought, STEM isn’t hard.

The Rose-BUD program is a networking and professional development organization focused on increasing girls and underrepresented group inclusion, specifically in the areas of computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. High school seniors with approved applications for Rose-Hulman enrollment are eligible for Rose-BUD scholarships. Find out more information at www.rose-hulman.edu/rosebud.

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