Local middle and high school students are getting hands-on experience in a professionally-equipped engineering lab this summer thanks to the staff of Chapman University’s Fowler School of Engineering.
The skills they’re learning in the school’s Summer Engineering Academy include 3D modeling and printing, assembling electronic components, and coding to complete projects that include a custom-engraved LED-powered light and an Arduino-controlled toy car. (Arduino is a type of inexpensive microcontroller board that can be customized for a variety of engineering projects.)
This is the second year in the program for Sophia Ungureanu, a homeschooled student with an interest in pursuing a career as a simulation and software engineer.
“It’s fun to be here,” she said, taking a break from soldering a circuit board for her Arduino car in the Design/Create/Innovate Lab. She is considering applying to Chapman in a few years. “It’s an amazing school.”
Chapman engineering students are assisting with the courses, teaching basic skills and guiding students through their projects step by step.
“It’s amazing to see them pick things up so quickly,” said Kalin Richardson ’26, a software engineering major who was teaching soldering skills to the students during the session. She enjoys the challenge of learning how to mentor kids of different ages.
“This is a great facility that is available to all our undergraduate students,” said Makerspace manager Miyuki Weldon, who organized the Summer Engineering Academy program as a way to show off the new engineering facilities to potential students from the city of Orange and beyond.
The Design/Create/Innovate Lab was opened in 2021 as part of the new Swenson Hall of Engineering. The Prototyping Lab is equipped with 3D printers, a vinyl printer-cutter and PCB prototyping equipment. The Manufacturing Lab offers multiple CNC machines, laser cutters, a waterjet and many manual tools. The Tech Shop houses soldering and test bench equipment as well as space for assembling projects. The Makerspace is open to all Chapman students, faculty and staff.
No experience is required for these skill-building courses, and everyone goes home with a finished product along with the confidence that engineering is something they can do.