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Potential OU students explore engineering programs, sink 'battleships' at OU Boeing Engineering Days

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Gliders (copy)

High school students considering OU pose with handmade gliders at OU Boeing Engineering Days on July 19.

Prospective engineering students are exploring their options — and prepping for a high-flying battle — through a camp at OU’s Gallogly College of Engineering. 

At the camp, OU Boeing Engineering Days, high school juniors and seniors can learn more about the different disciplines being offered at the college. 

Seven camps — one for each school in the engineering college — are held either Friday or Saturday each week through June and July, said Jackie Foos, the college’s director of outreach and recruitment. 

Foos said this is the fifth year Engineering Days has been held. Attendees include high school students primarily from Oklahoma, but Foos said students come from numerous locations — Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, even California.

While exploring what OU’s engineering programs have to offer, students from across the country use their engineering and logic skills to compete.

“(It’s) basically Battleship with the gliders,” said Thomas Hays, an assistant professor of engineering practice. “They work collectively to try to find and sink all the ships.”

Students are tasked with building a glider by hand as a team. Each team uses styrofoam, paper clips, hot glue and duct tape to ensure that the gliders can be built and altered quickly, Hays said. Then the gliders are launched into a net set up like a Battleship grid.

Hays said the game highlights the teamwork involved in engineering.

The Engineering Days camp has been successful in the past, Foos said. Some of the students who attended the first camps five years ago are now seniors at OU, and one has graduated from the college a year early. 

The aerospace engineering camp takes place July 19 and 20. Hays said the event begins with visually appealing aerospace videos, for students to get an idea of what aerospace engineering can entail. A 45-minute discussion about the basics of aerospace engineering follows, said Hays. Then, Hays said, the construction of the gliders begins. 

Foos said there are seven different day camps during OU Boeing Engineering Days and students can choose which discipline they want to learn more about. Foos said they have the option to attend as many or as few of the camps as they want, depending on their particular interests. 

Foos said this was in an effort to not make students feel like they were forced into learning about a discipline they weren’t interested in. 

“Aerospace really is in my mind a top-tier discipline that can be all-encompassing,” Hays said. “Some of the most sophisticated,  highest risk, highest budget projects ever made were aerospace projects. And we own one of the last frontiers, which is space exploration. You really can be charged with doing brand-new, never-tested tasks in this discipline.”

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