Local Girls Find Engineering Solutions at WPI's Camp REACH

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - Toddlers may enjoy a play area, perfectly suited to their age and needs. Teachers may use a science-resource center to help preschoolers learn about their world. Folks in Princeton, Mass., may see more greenery in the landscape.

Finding the vision and the wherewithal to plan these projects was the job of one of the youngest groups of engineers you're likely to meet.

Twenty-eight girls from around the region, all entering seventh grade this fall, became budding engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Camp REACH this summer. Aimed at girls interested in learning more about careers in engineering and technology, the two-week residential program provides a forum for exploring real-world issues and solutions. Student took on the roles of architectural engineers, project engineers, budget managers and project managers to complete their designs.

The new play area at Edward Street Day Care Center in Worcester was designed by Kailian Bennett of Hubbardston; Danielle Cole, Phyliss Goodman, Sadie Lopez and Katelyn Moisan, all of Worcester; Emily Ortega of Hartford, Conn.; Nichole Kunkel of Douglas; Samantha Wilner of Holden; and Rebecca Wojciak of Westminster. At their final presentation, the girls showed a brainstorming chart used to generate ideas for everything from fences to playground equipment. They considered safety, age appropriateness and budget limits in devising the playground.

"This is our second go-round with Camp REACH, and I didn't think I could be more impressed than I was two years ago, but the campers continue to amaze me and impress me," said Edward Street Day Care Center Director Doryl Rourke.

The science-resource center for teachers at the new First Baptist Church day-care center in Worcester was designed by Rachel Stevens of Hubbardston; Zoraida Lee Montanez, Hilary Rosen, Jacqueline Steinberg and Jessica Stevens, all of Worcester; Jessica Meunier of Fitchburg; Amanda Van Ness of Shrewsbury; Jessenia Delgado of Hartford, Conn.; Elizabeth Johnson of Princeton and Katherine O'Malley of Southbridge. The girls came up with a 12-month plan of project themes appropriate for preschoolers. They dreamed up a wide variety of activities and planned and budgeted for all needed materials. Finally, they organized their work in a binder, making it easy for teachers to access the information.

"I am completely impressed with all the work you have done," said Director Beth Rousseau. "This August is the opening of the day-care center, First Friends. It's brand new and we are really excited that WPI, Camp REACH and these particular girls were able to be involved in this project."

The tree-replacement program for the Princeton, Mass., Municipal Light Department was designed by Kaitlyn Lichwell of Hubbardston; Rosemary Ford, Amanda Johnson, Talia Mills, Gilliam Murphy and Jeanette Roach, all of Worcester; Caitlin Connor of Shrewsbury; Katherine Imber of Princeton; and Margaret Lajoie of Leicester. After extensive research, the girls suggested oak, sugar maple, dogwood and ash trees for the greenhouse that will raise trees for planting along roadways where the utility company had to remove or eliminate trees due to power lines. They also devised a detailed schedule for planting, watering, fertilizing and growing the trees.

"I want to thank WPI and the team for helping me out," said Jonathan Fitch of the Princeton Municipal Light Department. "I can't wait to get it started."

This is the third summer that WPI has offered Camp REACH to area girls. For more information, contact WPI's Outreach Programs at 508-831-5819.