Camp for girls introduces them to engineering, robotics

2 UIW professors founded camp

SAN ANTONIO – A middle school engineering camp that’s exclusive to girls is in its third year, introducing more girls to robotics and engineering and inspiring them to work hard.

The Mini-Gems Camp was started in 2015 by two professors from the University of the Incarnate Word’s engineering department. Each summer, the professors employ UIW engineering students and local teachers to work with the girls,

Caroleena Mancilla, 11, has an interest in robotics, and through the Mini-Gems camp, she has already learned how to program robots.

“We built robots. We did underwater robots. We made a tower that you can stack books on top of and it does like an earthquake,” she said.

Mini-Gems is a two-week camp that includes introductions to coding, programming and engineering design challenges.

“What we're trying to do is get more middle school girls interested and know more about traditional programming, so they'll be better prepared as they go into the high school, into the university,” said Michael Frye, an associate professor of engineering at UIW.

"It will be more effective if you separate the boys and girls and by that we will be giving opportunities for girls to be more confident to let them know, ‘You can do it. You can finish it,’” said Sree Nair, assistant professor of physics at UIW.

The UIW professors said they’re proud that the camp has no lectures and everything is interactive, which keeps campers coming back every year. 

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