IV. Discover Engineering Curriculum

A. Introduction

A commitment to keeping the camp experience fresh, innovative and involving means that the camp curriculum has evolved over the years, reflecting an attempt to provide the participants with an exposure to a wide range of engineering pursuits [14]. As resources become available, new sessions are being developed and added. Annual exit surveys help decide which components of the curriculum need modifications. Core sessions consistently attract high levels of interest.

Camp sessions are scheduled in three-hour time slots to allow the participants to explore and ask questions. The material presented is relatively challenging but not overwhelming. All activities emphasize participation and collaboration. In 1997 the camp schedule included the following sessions: Introduction to Engineering, Holography, Multimedia, Electrical, Aerospace, Mechanical, Industrial, Chemical and Civil Engineering projects, a Panel Discussion and a Career Game.

B. Description of 1997 Camp Sessions

The 1997 camp schedule, as well as the most current, 1999 camp schedule, are included for reference. The multimedia version of the camp sessions descriptions is found here.

Introduction to Engineering: This introductory session serves as an "ice-breaker", allowing participants to get to know each other and their camp counselors. Student life as well as engineering as a career option are discussed. Information about the camp schedule, safety tips, campus orientation and a general introduction are provided.

Holography: In a short introduction, explaining underlying principles in simple-to-understand terms, students learn about lasers and holograms. Next, they make individual holographic images in the darkroom, which they can then take home.

Multimedia Session: In the first part of this session students create a multimedia presentation on History of Flight, using audio and video clips and a variety of graphical elements. Next, the participants embark on a treasure hunt across the Internet, searching for sites celebrating achievements of women scientists and engineers. They are also introduced to the Women In Engineering at Ryerson Web site, where they can learn about the camp background, see pictures and watch video clips from previous and current camp sessions.

Electrical Engineering: This session includes a discussion of the impact of new technologies, of career opportunities in Electrical and Computer engineering, a practical demonstration in a Control Systems Lab and an individual project. For the project, students design and build a battery-powered light emitting diode (LED) ornament. Through the project the participants learn practical aspects of designing, assembling and troubleshooting a simple electronic circuit.

Aerospace Engineering: The session starts with a short lecture on basics of aerodynamics. In a hands-on component, students individually assemble gliding airplanes from balsa wood, paper and glue. Later, models are tested for lift, and distance of flight. Students are also shown a measurement exercise using a low-speed wind tunnel in which they learn about lift and drag forces.

Industrial and Mechanical Engineering: In the first of these sessions, students perform a lab exercise in pneumatic control, in which they assemble an operating control system. Compressed air is used as an actuating medium and series of Boolean logic functions are performed. In the second session, students have an opportunity to test their assembly skills on Lego Dacta sets, containing different gear, pulley and motor components. Small models of mechanical systems are constructed, such as a building crane, a helicopter, a punch press, a drill, and so on. Students work on these projects in teams.

Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Biology: The session starts with an introduction describing a range of applications for Chemistry, Biology and Chemical Engineering, as well as a cross-section of relevant careers. Next, students undertake a project to create a product for a fictitious Ryerson Toy Company. The toy is a jelly-like substance ("slime") that kids would like to play with. Students test different colours and smells of the "slime". In supervised experiments they create different combinations of esters, and then produce the "slime" using guar gum and boric acid reagents.

Civil Engineering: The session starts with a short lecture on structures, and construction. Later, teams of students build bridges using pasta and glue as building materials. Bridges are then weighted and tested for a maximum carrying load. All teams are awarded humorous certificates for their achievements. Students learn in an entertaining way that team work is an important aspect of engineering.

Panel Discussion: A panel discussion on the last day of the camp offers an opportunity for the students to meet women engineers representing a wide variety of experience in the field. The panelists share details of their own academic history and career paths, describe their current jobs, and highlight aspects of their profession that make it a viable and rewarding career for them. A question and answer session follows.

WAMMO - a Career Game: WAMMO is a board-, or more accurately, floor-game, which provides an entertaining and educational format for including women's issues in the camp agenda. The game was developed at Ryerson by two members of the WIE Committee. The acronym stands for: Women Aware, Motivated and Moving On. The objective of the game is for the players to proceed from Start to Finish along a game-board by successfully responding to questions from five subject areas: Women in the Paid Labour Force, Women in Engineering and Applied Science, Women and Education, Women and Family Life and Stereotypes and Other Images. In addition, the board contains a number of squares labeled Tootsie Rolls, Mothers of Invention and Pink Collar Blues. If the players land on one of these, a relevant scenario is described and players advance, retreat, or lose a turn depending on the scenario. Players are divided into two to three teams and collaborate to determine the team's response. This promotes participation and cooperative problem solving.

Group Barbecue: On the last day of the camp an outdoor barbecue lunch on campus gives everyone an opportunity to socialize. All participants receive camp memento T-shirts, relax, enjoy summer weather and conversations with their new friends, faculty and student counsellors.

C. New Camp Sessions introduced in 1999

Two new sessions were introduced in 1999, replacing the Holography and Multimedia sessions. They were:

Robolab - Lego Mindstorm: Mechanical Engineering Robolab is about learning science, technology, math and design through the making, programming and testing of programmable Lego robots. With the Robolab system, camp participants learn about today's world of robotics, using their imagination and creativity, while they build machines with familiar Lego pieces along with motors, gears, sensors, an infra-red transmitter and an RCX block (the Lego microcomputer). Once their creation has been built, it comes to life after downloading programs off a PC using Robolab software.

Digital Logic Circuits: This Computer Engineering Computer Engineering Session presents a mini-lecture/lab component which introduces the camp participants to the theory of Boolean algebra, and uses this knowledge for the design of digtal circuitry - the fundamental building blocks of a computer . The students complete the session by designing a binary decoder using gate technology.

The 1999 camp schedule also included a new field trip to Rogers CANTEL Control Centre.

D. Past Camp Sessions

In the past, camp curriculum also included the following projects:

Egg Drop Contest: This short, lunch hour activity was designed as an "ice-breaker" on the first day of the camp and involves parachuting a raw egg from the second floor of a building. This way, students tested concepts of lift and drag encountered by parachutes and gliders in a fun and innovative way.

Tower Building Group project: This was the civil engineering session, accompanied by a short lecture on structures and construction. Students were then divided into groups of four, and were provided with masking tape, a box of drinking straws and scissors. The objective of the exercise was to design and build the tallest possible free-standing tower that would support a raw egg. The project emphasized team work aspect of engineering.

Autocad Session: Students were introduced to the computer-aided design package (Autocad) and produced their own drawing of an airplane.

Off- Campus Tours: Students had an opportunity to tour off campus sites showcasing engineering. For example, in 1996 there were two guided tours - one of the Toronto Skydome and one of the Hugh-MacMillan Bloorview Rehabilitation Center. Students saw how engineering was used to develop prosthetics, wheelchairs, robotic aids and computer systems for people with disabilities and how engineering made possible the moveable roof of Skydome.