Skip to main content

2nd Annual PSE Summer Camp

The Paper Science department hosted its second annual summer camp for high school juniors and seniors, A Matter of Biomaterials. The goal of the camp is  to give students a chance to learn what engineering is, and the role of sustainability and biomaterials in creating a sustainable future. The goal, by the end of the week, is that all campers will gain a better perspective of what engineering is like in college, and how that translates to the real world. Drs. Bryd, Jameel, Lucian, Pal, Pawlak and Venditti, as well as Jennifer Piercy and Paula Harrod worked tirelessly to plan for the camp and make the week an amazing success. Undergraduate PSE students Matthew Frink, Kedric Lemon, Mary Kathryn Wallace were great assists as they assisted the professors and worked alongside the campers all week long.

Learning through Labs

Each day the campers participated in a lecture followed by a lab to give hands-on experience of what they learned. The labs and lectures included the subjects of nanotechnology, biomaterials, absorption and adsorption, recycling, with two new topics being added this year, bioplastics and 3D printing, which were a huge success.

Mary Wallace, a rising junior in PSE, was a counselor involved in the nanotechnology lab using paper circuits. The campers received an SD card loaded with movie sounds clips, and had to use paper circuits to play the sound clips, and place them in the order in which they would occur in the movie.  Mary’s comments were “she loved getting to know the campers and listen to how their perspective changed on engineering and the paper industry.”

Matt Frink, a rising junior in PSE, worked with the campers on the biofuels and bioplastics labs. The biofuels lab maintained its title from last year as the camper favorite. In the lab, the campers juiced sugarcane and using distillation and fermentation produced ethanol over the course of 4 days. The campers then made paper hand-sheets using the sugarcane bagasse and one ‘E’ stage for pulping. Frink also worked hard in weeks prior to the camp to help prepare the new bioplastics lab. Using combinations of cornstarch, vinegar, water, glycerin, and heat, campers were able to create biodegradable and ecofriendly plastics. They had the freedom to manipulate the recipe to achieve what they thought would create the best result.

Kedric Lemon, a rising senior in PSE, was a counselor involved in the super absorbent polymers and recycling labs.  “I believe that a fair amount of the campers were significantly more interested in the program, after completing camp, than they were before they started. What I enjoyed most about being a counselor was that I was able to get others interested in the field that I enjoy.”

On the last day of camp, the students, in groups of four, will be assigned a lab that they will give a presentation on. The students do not know which lab they will be presenting until the second to last day of camp, to keep them engaged in all the labs throughout the week. They were given a short course on presentation skills and then given the task of creating a PowerPoint that the group would use to present in front of their fellow campers, parents and the camp staff. It is a great opportunity for the campers, to present on what they gained from camp and for parents, to understand the value and implications of what the students learned in in the PSE program.

Results……A Great Success

All three camp counselors reported that they loved talking to the students about paper, engineering as a whole, and just about college and campus life. Considering many high schoolers are not explicitly taught what engineering is in the real world, and how broad of an interest it is, it is great for these students to get a grasp of their possibilities early on. Most of the campers did not know about the Paper Science & Engineering program at NC State or about all its applications. By the end of the week, many of the students showed an interest in pursuing PSE at NC State! Once again, thank you to all who played a role in making Summer Camp 2017 a success; it is wonderful to see our program promoted throughout the community.

by guest blogger Allison Hellwig