INDIANAPOLIS — Construction continues on the new E. S. Witchger School of Engineering at Marian University, but crews are laying down the foundation for more than just the building itself.
It’s a sign of the endless possibilities for students, like Everette Gonzalez.
“I’ve always been interested in engineering,” he said. “It started from LEGOs. I was just always into building with LEGOs trying to put everything I could put together.”
Gonzalez is entering his senior year of high school. As far as the future, he’s planning to study engineering.
“I actually want to go in to structural engineering,” he said, “I’m actually interested in mechanical engineering as well.”
On Monday, Gonzalez was among several high school students touring the construction site on Marian’s campus. It’s part of the school’s Innovation Through Engineering Residential Summer Camp, which runs through Friday.
“Our purpose here with the summer camp is to increase interest,” said Tanja Greene, director.
Marian’s engineering camp is one of two camps happening this week. The school is also hosting a healthcare camp. Both programs provide hands-on experiences through tours, field trips, lectures and other activities with hopes of inspiring students to pursue careers in these high demand industries.
“That demand is never going away,” Greene said. “If we can focus on fulfilling those positions, and producing the people that the community needs, then we’re on the right track.”
The camps are open to high school students, ranging from sophomores to seniors. Students stay on Marian’s campus throughout the duration, supervised by several counselors.
Gracie Hicks, who is entering her sophomore year at Marian, is one of the counselors for the engineering camp. She’s currently in the school’s dual degree program and majoring in biomedical engineering and chemistry.
She says camps, like this, inspired her to pursue a career in STEM.
“It definitely helps build that interest and foundation,” she said. “If you can find out you like something before you go into college, especially at this age, you can start planning classes that will help you.”
By being exposed to the possibilities on Marian’s campus, Greene hopes it’ll plant the seed for students to pursue these careers without leaving the state.
“Hopefully through our summer camps, we’re going to peak those interests, get them excited, and through that excitement, have them become Marian University students so we can train them to be transformative leaders to go out and fulfill those roles in the community,” she said.
About 32 students are enrolled in the two camps, and while this opportunity is available for all local high schoolers, Greene said they especially hope to reach those from underrepresented and diverse populations.
“We want the underrepresented students to come. We want the first generation. We want the students of color. We want the students of limited resources to come and understand there is a place for them,” said Greene.
Greene said they are planning for next year’s programs and plan to launch applications around the end of this year.