CSU East Bay hosts kids' robotics summer camp

Cal State East Bay is offering a unique week-long summer camp to encourage teens to attend college and study engineering.

Organizers say it is a way to give high school students from low-income communities a chance to experience life on campus

The teens come from different parts of Contra Costa County. They're learning to build engineering projects and friendships at the same time.

They are 42 boys and 30 girls divided into teams. They are building robots and bridges. They measure, they draw and then test a process of trial and error.
"I'm really happy when I get something right. It's sort of like a click in a way," says Ansel McNamara-Macy, a 15-year-old from Pinole.
"My uncle lives in an apartment that has a view of the Bay Bridge. I always wondered how was this bridge built," says Pouya Rezvani, an 18-year-old from Walnut Creek.
He says he's excited by the possibilities a career in engineering can bring. He says it's about advancing technology.

"I can perhaps save lives or make living a lot easier," says Rezvani.
Another teen is building a robot, a step she hopes will help her step out of the box. She plans to study biomedical engineering to help the disabled.
"I really want to do prosthetics; robot arms, robot legs, improving wheelchairs," says Florence Fasugbe, a 15-year-old from Pittsburg.
For some teens, this engineering camp is a natural extension of what they've always loved to do.

"Ever since I could get my hands on anything for instance, Legos...I would build Lego's, build houses, build bridges. It was a starting point."
This camp is a starting point for some to come out of their shell and discover the limitless possibilities ahead.

"It makes me more motivated to become like the first person in my family to get a four-year degree," says Barsotti.

The teens are learning, eating and sleeping on campus.
"That's the big reward, turning students onto engineering, making college an option for them and having them set goals to the stars and achieve them," says Engineering Professor Farzad Shahbodaghlou who's also the director of construction management program with Cal State East Bay.

Many say the invaluable lesson they've learned is the importance of team work.
"You're always going to have to work with new people, no matter what. It's just the way of life. No matter where you go, you're going to meet new people. You're going to have to learn to acclimate. I actually like it," says Danielle Benoit, a 17-year-old from Concord.

Organizers say this camp is helping students build a bridge to their future. The all expenses paid camp for students is in its third year and it's growing larger by the year.

It's funded by corporations such as Chevron and AT&T.

Students are are selected by the high schools that are partners with Cal State East Bay.
For more information on the Discover E camp, contact: engineeringcsueb@csueastbay.edu