High school students experience campus life


The Minority Engineering Educational Task offered 38 local high school students a glimpse of collegiate life this past weekend, with information sessions from multiple organizations and classroom-simulated workshops during their three-day visit at the University.

“We wanted to teach them more about engineering, but we also wanted to show them the different opportunities college has to offer,” said Mark Acquaye, the MEET cultural awareness chair.

MEET is a professional and social society and chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, said Keisha Mullings, MEET conference planning chair.

Acquaye and Hardik Dhaduk, MEET high school outreach chair, chose the students based on an application process that included their grades, high school location, an essay and a letter of recommendation, Acquaye said.

High school students had the opportunity to interact with campus life during their visit with presentations from engineering organizations, as well as representatives from fraternities, sororities and Residence Life.

“We wanted to convey to the students that even as engineers they can still be entrepreneurs, or residential advisors, or fraternity brothers,” said Acquaye, a School of Engineering junior. “We also wanted them to know about all the different fields [at the] University.”

The high school students also attended a series of student-led, undergraduate classes exposing them to the different fields of engineering.

“This program really opened my eyes,” said Daniela Velez, a senior at the Burlington County Institute of Technology in Westampton, N.J. “I didn’t know that there were so many different fields of specialization in engineering.”

During the biomedical engineering workshop, the students were challenged to brainstorm an idea for a drug that could improve the lives of others.

In the chemical engineer workshop, students took part in practical activities.

“We got to actually make lotion,” said Kimberly Holmes, a junior at Arthur P. Schalick High School in Pittsgrove, N.J. “It was made with water and oil and so it would only last three days until the ingredients separated, but it was still cool to be able to make lotion.”

Durva Bhandare, a New Brunswick High School senior, said he created structures during the civil engineering workshop, which was led by teaching assistants.

“We had to make small bridges out of balsa wood and see how much weight they would hold,” Bhandare said. “Ours only held about four pounds, but it was still really interesting to design the bridge and then put it together.”

The high school students were able to experience a social aspect to college Saturday night as the program featured performances by student groups on campus, including the Rutgers University Multicultural Dance Organization and the West Indian Student Organization.

Mirely Peralta, a senior at Science Park High School in Newark, attended an engineering program called “Upward Bound” with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, but she said she found MEET’s program more informative.

“I got more out of three days here than I did out of three weeks there,” Peralta said.

Mullings, who attended the program when she was a high school student, said there are student outreach programs for high students every semester.

“Most of the programs are the same as when I was here as a high school student, but since engineering is a field that always changing, the workshops change as well,” said Mullings, a School of Engineering sophomore.

Kartik Chopra, a New Brunswick High School senior, said he thought MEET effectively conveyed the different types of opportunities available as an engineer and at the University.

“The program was extremely well-run. It was organized, creative and informative,” Chopra said. “On top of that, the MEET members really made sure that we were both learning and having a good time.”


By Rina Mody

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