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Building A 100% Online Aerospace Engineering Virtual Summer Camp For High School Students
The prevalence of distance and virtual education has been on the rise in recent years and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of this method of transferring knowledge has been made apparent. While virtual engineering curriculum has largely been adapted from in-person coursework which relies heavily on hands-on activities and demonstrations, development of curriculum with an emphasis on virtual learning from the beginning is key to the success of these programs. Due to COVID-19, engineering summer camps offered by North Carolina State University (NCSU) shifted to a virtual format for the summer of 2021 and required a new curriculum to be designed with an emphasis on providing a hands-on experience in a virtual environment. The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering created a curriculum which included a student-build wind tunnel used to demonstrate the fundamentals of lift, drag, flight stability, and more advanced topics such as aeroelasticity. A popular engineering game was adopted as a teaching tool to explain astronautics concepts like mission planning and orbital mechanics. Supplies for these activities were prepared and shipped to students prior to the start of camp. Each week-long camp was conducted via Zoom and led by a team consisting of an NCSU graduate student, three sophomores, and a faculty advisor. Multiple camp instructors allowed a greater emphasis on direct instruction and led to more interactions between students and instructors. Anonymous student feedback following the completion of the camps showed overwhelmingly positive results with a majority of students showing interest in pursuing an engineering degree with multiple students expressing interest in attending NCSU.