SDSU, SDG&E Help ‘Engineer’ Summer Camp for 150 San Diego County Kids
SAN DIEGO, June 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — This week, 150 elementary school children in San Diego County are attending a new kind of summer camp — the “Summer Engineering Experience for Kids” (SEEK) Camp, a concept designed by the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) in 2007 to build a pipeline to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for African-American and other under-represented minority children.
The San Diego SEEK camp is the first of its kind on the West Coast, while another SEEK camp begins later this month in Oakland, Calif. Students will learn, have fun, and experiment with technology during the three-week day camp on campus at San Diego State University (SDSU). To demonstrate what they’ve learned, the kids will take part in “competitions” each Friday during the camp to show off to family and friends what they’ve learned and/or built. The competitions will be held at the Parma Payne Alumni Center on the SDSU campus from noon to 2 p.m. June 24, July 1 and July 8.
“One of the great joys of education is when we see students get excited about something new,” said Dr. James R. Kitchen, SDSU’s vice president for student affairs. “The SEEK Camp exposes students every day to things they’ve never seen or done before. You can see the excitement in their eyes. And, hopefully, some of them are being inspired to pursue careers in the STEM fields as they move forward with their education.”
A fundamental aspect of the SEEK program is that NSBE collegiate members serve as mentors to the campers. College students from a number of schools will travel to San Diego to be mentors and will stay in the SDSU dorms for the duration of the SEEK camp.
“Technology is transforming the energy industry and changing the kinds of skill sets utilities will need in their workforce,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chief executive officer for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). “As we begin to navigate the new frontier of the smart grid, the door is open to all kinds of possibilities. We hope some of the best and brightest future graduates will choose a career with SDG&E, but we also know we need to start now to engage them in science and engineering. The SEEK camp helps make that happen.”
SDG&E, through its parent company’s Sempra Energy Foundation, contributed a $50,000 grant to support the summer camp. Other potential future employers, energy developers NRG, Inc. and Calpine, along with Southern California Edison, provided financial support for the San Diego SEEK camp. The Urban League of San Diego was instrumental in getting the word out to local schools to make sure kids and their parents were aware of this summer’s SEEK camp.
“The support of so many generous partners is integral to the success of the SEEK program, but it also is evidence of our nation’s need to rebuild its technological dominance by encouraging more young people to go into science, technology, engineering or mathematics as a career,” said Carl B. Mack, executive director of NSBE. Mack is leading NSBE’s efforts to have a SEEK camp in every state in the U.S.
The National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), a student-governed, not-for-profit organization founded in 1975, is the premier organization serving blacks in engineering and technology. With more than 35,000 members and 400 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of college and pre-college students and technical professionals. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professional and positively impact the community.”
About San Diego State University
San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded in 1897, the university has grown to offer bachelor’s degrees in 84 areas, master’s degrees in 76 areas and doctorates in 18 areas. SDSU’s approximately 30,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with faculty and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.
About San Diego Gas & Electric
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.5 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.