‘Nova engineers inVESTED in future

John Durkin

A dozen undergraduates from the College of Engineering helped mentor Philadelphia-area high school students in the first installment of the VESTED Spring Program this past Saturday. The VESTED Program, which stands for Villanova Engineering Science Technology Enrichment and Development, is a semester-long effort that brings the students to Villanova for bimonthly courses in engineering and science.

This semester about 40 students will come to campus on eight Saturdays to learn about technology. The students will have exposure to speakers and representatives from different professions, as well as the opportunity to engage in hands-on projects.

VESTED’s Spring Program follows the completion of last semester’s work, in which Philadelphia students focused on the study of robotics with the help of Villanova engineers.

The students applied for the program through their schools’ guidance departments, and transportation is provided from numerous spots throughout Philadelphia to ensure that all students can attend.

Villanova engineers who are involved with the Service Learning Community will mentor this semester’s visiting students, overseeing their course work and designing the projects that the students will work on in small groups.

Linda Coleman, associate director for the Center for Multicultural Affairs, has been a VESTED co-director since its beginning in 2005.

“[VESTED is] critically important for preparing the pipeline for future engineers, particularly for underrepresented students,” Coleman said.

Additionally, the program is intended to reveal available careers in science to the students, who otherwise would not have exposure to them.

The curriculum for this semester’s VESTED Program varies depending on students’ previous experience. First-year students will focus primarily on general experiments and broad-based assignments that will give them insight into each of the different forms of engineering. Second- and third-year students will design specific projects that will be presented to parents and guests at the semester’s end.

Current VESTED students will have the opportunity to come back during the summer for an intensive four-week program. Each week is devoted to a different specialty of engineering, as students spend concentrated time on the aspects of civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical studies.

Saturday’s session was comprised primarily of introductory information and an “Egg-Drop” experiment moderated by the VESTED mentors. The second class session on Feb. 2 will focus on learning, with various speakers and other science-related activities.

Dr. Stephen Jones, the associate dean for Student Strategic Problems for the College of Engineering and a VESTED co-director, said he understands the importance of the Program’s influence to the high school students.

“Many of the students will be the first to go to college in their families,” Jones said. “They will prepare to set goals for themselves and to make career decisions based on the important influence from engineering and science.”

Since the program’s inception, many graduating high school seniors have applied for and been accepted to Villanova following their VESTED experience. Applying for college becomes an important focus for VESTED participants, and all of the students are encouraged and guided toward attending college.