updated: 7/23/2012 3:37:31 PM
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology says a record 310 students from 36 states and multiple countries signed up for this year's Operation Catapult program. The effort is designed to allow high school seniors to experience campus life and receive hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics experience.
July 23, 2012
Terre Haute, Ind. -– A record number of high-school seniors from throughout the world have taken steps toward careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Operation Catapult program.
A total of 310 students from 36 states and five international countries spent two and a half weeks in one of the oldest and most successful summer enrichment experiences in the STEM fields. This year’s program enrollment is 10 percent higher than. The second of two summer sessions continues through Wednesday, July 25.
For 46 years, Operation Catapult has enabled students who have completed their junior year of high school to participate in hands-on engineering projects and experience a slice of campus life. There are also plant trips to learn about innovative practices at high-tech Indiana companies; visits to engineers, scientists and computer programmers; and lectures by Rose-Hulman professors on a variety of STEM issues.
This summer’s projects featured biofuels distillation, wind tunnel testing, using rapid prototyping, studying about alcohol fuel gels, creating computer games and Frisbee throwing devices, and making micro-controlled vehicles.
“From the beginning, Operation Catapult’s goal has been to give high-school students their first experience in applied engineering,” stated Mechanical Engineering Professor Patsy Brackin, Ph.D., who has been directing the program since 2005. “We throw students into engineering and give them a push in the right direction.”
John Beutter of Los Altos, Calif., joined three students in developing an intricate pulley and belt system that utilized one motor to power two fans for lifting and moving a model hovercraft.
“The system was revolutionary, a first-of-its-kind,” stated Beutter. “When we heard that powering two fans off one motor hadn’t been done, we just had to do it.”
Assisting in the project, completed during the June session, were Ivel Lee Collins of Fairfax, Va., David Richey of Zionsville, Ind., and Lance Clodfelter of Roachdale, Ind.
“I wanted a summer experience in which I could build something cool,” stated Collins. “I found the experience very interesting.”
Julie Martin of Singapore used wind and water tunnels to study the aerodynamic characteristics of flapping wings. Assisting in this discovery were Alexandra Ullberg of Flossmoor, Ill., and Brianna Hibbler of Fishers, Ind.
“It was nice to learn something together,” stated Martin, who had never used a wind tunnel. “I now feel that I actually know what I can do in engineering.”
Meanwhile, Charles Angelastro of Newbury, Calif., referred to this year’s Operation Catapult experience as “nerdvana.” He joined four students in testing failure in balsa wood bridge trusses.
“This was an incredible experience,” he said. “I came into Operation Catapult against my will, kicking and screaming. My parents thought it would be good for me. Instead of this, I wanted to spend two and a half weeks with my friends back home. At the end, I ended up spending a great time with dozens of new friends with who I have so much in common.”
For the second straight summer, the program has an international flair as visitors from Huazhong University of Science and Technology's QiMing College in Wuhan, China served as technical mentors for several projects. Rose-Hulman is working with the institution to develop a program similar to Operation Catapult in that country.
“We have a program that’s unique and growing in popularity. We’re hoping to address the high demand for college graduates with backgrounds in STEM careers,” stated Brackin.
Admission to the Operation Catapult program is highly selective with academic requirements that are similar to those required for admission to Rose-Hulman as a high-school graduate. Students must have completed three years of math and one year of chemistry or physics.
A large majority of students attending Operation Catapult select to major in STEM areas at colleges throughout the world. Rose-Hulman’s record-breaking 615 freshman class for 2012-13 includes 93 graduates from last summer’s program.
Learn more about Rose-Hulman’s Operation Catapult program at http://www.rose-hulman.edu/admissions-financial-aid/early-planning/operation-catapult.aspx.
About Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Founded in 1874, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology offers a rigorous, hands-on education that stresses development of technical and interpersonal skills in an environment characterized by close personal attention for every student. The college, located in Terre Haute, Ind., has an enrollment of 1,900 undergraduate students and 100 graduate students. For 13 consecutive years, Rose-Hulman has been rated the top undergraduate engineering college in the nation that offers the bachelor's or master's degree as its top degree in engineering. The ranking is based on a national survey of deans and senior faculty conducted by U.S. News & World Report for its college guidebook. Rose-Hulman’s emphasis on undergraduate education has also been recognized by The Princeton Review, which cited six of the Institute’s professors for this year’s Best 300 Professors book. Learn more about Rose-Hulman at www.rose-hulman.edu.
Source: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology