The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) of Western Michigan University (WMU), in conjunction with the Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) Technical/Career Center, hosted a one-week summer institute for female 7th and 8th grade students on June 23-29, 2002. The goal of the summer immersion experience was to motivate girls toward greater participation in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. The activities of the summer institute are based on launching a weather balloon and are related to the five subject areas of the Michigan Curriculum Science Content Benchmarks. The activities include designing and assembling an enclosure to house an instrumentation panel to collect temperature and pressure data, building a sighting tube and an azimuth mat to collect the coordinates of the weather balloon, using an Excel computer spreadsheet program to graph temperature and pressure data as a function of altitude, and constructing a diorama of the balloon flight. The students also spent one day at the KISD/NASA Aeronautics Education Lab to perform computer simulations of flight planning and aircraft design, and to use a simulator to experience flying a small airplane. In addition to the daytime activities, evening activities included papermaking, plastic injection molding, sports, and a scavenger hunt to learn about the WMU campus.
The Girls Exploring Engineering Project was funded by a grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. The Principal Investigator was Dr. Edmund Tsang, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs & Assessment and Founding Director of the Center of Excellence in Engineering Education. Dr. Frank Severance, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Damon Miller, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, were the instructors for the summer institute.