Encounter Engineering Exposes Freshmen to Future in Engineering

August 26, 2015 | LSU Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

More than 300 engineering students got a taste of college life a week before school started as part of the annual Encounter Engineering (E2) bridge program.

Encounter Engineering (E2), held Aug.14 through 19, offers engineering freshmen a head start in math, physics and engineering design, as well as an opportunity to meet upperclassmen, faculty and industry partners. The camp is also a chance for current students to act as team leaders and to develop their communication and leadership skills.

“The student team and group leaders provide the true mentorship to the incoming freshmen, and they will always be the linchpin of the camp experience,” said Sarah Jones, associate director of diversity for the College and one of the camp’s coordinators.

Bhavya Ramachandran, civil engineering sophomore, explained her most important duty as a student team leader is to motivate her group.

“This is my first year volunteering with the camp,” she said. “Being a team leader, you’re here to help the freshmen as much as you can, so it’s like being their second mom, almost.”

In fact, “some of them call me ‘mother,’” she said, laughing.

This was chemical engineering sophomore Sarah Wannamaker’s second time volunteering with E2. She was leader to a team of six incoming students, each of them sharing the same academic program.

“It sort of allows you to help more, when you all are the same major,” Wannamaker explained. “I have five freshmen and one is a transfer student. It’s much easier to give advice on professors and what to expect, since we’re all in chemical engineering.”

In addition to the academic edge the camp offers, Encounter Engineering gives freshmen access to socialize with like-minded individuals.

“My group from last year was sort of quiet, honestly,” Wannamaker said. “This year, everyone was so active and talkative and social. They loved the design project and really enjoyed working together.”

This year, E2 hosted 340 participants, 60 team leaders that worked directly with the incoming freshmen and 27 higher-level leaders. The inaugural camps in 2007 and 2008 hosted 45 students and five mentors.

Each camp is sure to include exercises in team building, communication, and hands-on design each year, said Jones, who worked directly in the planning and coordination of the initial camp. This year’s camp featured a design competition that was developed around a Mars mission narrative.

“The design competition had three distinct tasks: build a supply transport to carry items across a short course without human assistance, create an unloading system at the delivery spot operated by the ‘colonist’ who can’t directly touch the supplies and develop a means of delivering the supplies to storage,” Jones said.

Each team and task was evaluated on parameters that included speed, amount of supplies transported or transferred, autonomy of the vehicle and style.

“I love this camp,” said Anna Lucchesi, a chemical engineering freshman. “You and your team get a problem, and then you get a couple of hours a day with your team to solve that problem. It’s very immersive.”

Jon Knutson, petroleum engineering freshmen and Lucchesi’s team member, agreed.

“The camp is cool but also very informative,” Knutson said. “This is actually what it will be like during our time here.”

Overall, E2 offers community building within the College, and it introduces university-level academic content and knowledge to incoming students.

“The students are definitely exposed to a lot throughout the camp,” said Nicholas Totaro, Tech Time and Logistics group leader. “It’s all to prepare them for their future here.”


This story was written by M.B. Humphrey. For more information, contact camp coordinator Sarah Jones at sjones@lsu.edu or (225) 578-5705. For more photos taken during Encounter Engineering, visit the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/groups/330452750381794/.