School of EECS to host two virtual summer camps for girls

The camps aim to engage all participants, regardless of gender, in equity and inclusion across engineering and computer science


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — One individual designed and built her own radio. Another created a hat that lit up in response to different movements. Others experimented with the equipment in a Motion Capture Lab, and many taught robots how to dance.

No, these weren’t college engineering students; these were middle schoolers participating in past years’ electrical engineering and computer science and engineering summer camps hosted by the Penn State School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

This summer, the two camps geared toward girls and open to all participants are back, this time in a virtual format.

Game Makers, Game Changers, the computer science and engineering camp, will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June 21 to 25 via Zoom. Participants will use games such as Minecraft to learn computer science and engineering basics. They’ll also teach a computer how to play games such as Quarto using their words, and they’ll learn about different ways that machines can learn. The camp will also include a panel of world-renowned women computer scientists at different stages in their careers to show how research is performed at top universities and tech companies. While the camp is geared toward girls, it is open to anyone entering seventh through ninth grades.

“My lab has enjoyed it when undergraduates who interact with our conversational agent express surprise that ‘it claims to have a memory of past conversations,’” said Rebecca Passonneau, professor of computer science and engineering and one of the faculty leaders for the camp. “I can't wait to see how middle school girls will react to it, and I can't wait to get them thinking about the remarkable technologies they could create in their futures.”

Learn more about the Game Makers, Game Changers camp and register here.

Anything is POssible for Girls in Electrical Engineering (APOGEE), the electrical engineering camp, will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from July 19 to 23 via Zoom. Participants will learn about and create wearable technology such as smart clothing or fitness tracker devices. They will learn about the electronics and signals that surround us every day, get the chance to interact and work with women electrical engineers and students and be introduced to the hands-on, do-it-yourself culture by actually building and creating. As with the Game Makers, Game Changers camp, the APOGEE camp will feature a panel of accomplished women engineers from around the world. The camp, while geared toward girls, is open to anyone entering seventh through 12th grades.

“Like the rest of the world, we held APOGEE in a virtual format last year,” said Tim Kane, professor of electrical engineering and the faculty leader for the APOGEE camp. “Each camper received a full goody bag of gear, distributed in a live drive-by, so we could all do hands-on experiments. Small group discussions with our college-aged mentors were well received and will be expanded on. We’ll also follow up in the fall or whenever it’s safe with an afternoon live get-together so the campers can meet each other and share their creations in real life.”

Learn more about the APOGEE camp and register here.


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