High school students enrich summer with program at Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – High school students searching for a unique summer opportunity can take advantage of all Penn State has to offer by taking part in the Summer Study program of Melville, New York.
As a participating university, Penn State offers ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade students from around the world the chance to experience its academics, athletics and social and cultural activities during two-week, three-and-a-half-week and five-week long courses and workshops.
From the beginning of July to the beginning of August, Charles Cox, instructor of engineering design, ran three introductory architectural studios at the University Park campus. The studios were hosted by the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) in its engineering shop facilities on the third floor of the Hammond Building.
Cox said offering Summer Study programs allows him to have conversations with budding designers that can aid them in their higher education decisions.
“Contact with a professional practitioner might inform secondary level students’ decisions about pursuing design-based careers,” he said. “Being in the SEDTAPP facility allows me to plug design with a capital ‘D,’ as it extends over not only the College of Engineering, but also the other design programs, such as those in the College of Arts and Architecture.”
One architecture program ran for three-and-a-half weeks and focused on the elementary architectural concepts of entry, circulation and context related to built form.
“We went into more elemental investigations regarding the psychological aspects and qualities associated with entrances and crossing the boundary between the site outside and the enclosure of inside, “Cox said. “The level of abstraction might have been overwhelming at first, but most of the students kept with it and you could see that they were noticing and questioning environments that they previously took for granted.”
The two other architecture workshops were more intensely focused on working as a group to measure and document the Engineering Library in Hammond Building and the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library, located in 111 Stuckeman Family Building. After analyzing an existing library, the students used their findings to design a new library to reflect each of their individual styles and interests.
“The results were much more light-hearted this year because the students proposed libraries for things like graffiti, dance and sculpture,” Cox said. “Their investigations were quite rigorous for a short summer workshop. They were clever enough to dip their toes in a low-stakes design context in order to see what was involved, some well before they need to make a decision about a higher education major.”
Because the SEDTAPP shop facilities allowed space for students to design, model and present for critiques by registered, practicing architects on Penn State’s faculty, Cox said the Summer Study students truly experienced what is involved with an architectural studio at a university.
As part of the Summer Study program experience, students were introduced to Penn State’s 3D Printing Club and the additive manufacturing facilities available to Penn State undergraduates. The tour of the space was concluded with the club giving a printed likeness of the Nittany Lion Shrine as a memento of their visit to Penn State.
Cox said because of this opportunity, high school students will be able to make a much more informed choice about pursuing architecture or engineering as a major. He encourages all high school students, especially those within Pennsylvania to be aware of and experience all that Penn State and the College of Engineering can offer them.
“It is extremely important for Penn State to offer design opportunities to secondary students, allowing them to be expressive and get a taste of design," he said. “I feel that the citizens of the Commonwealth should be at least privy to, if not taking advantage of, all the SEDTAPP facilities, especially the shop, 3D Printing Club, and the new design studio. We are busy establishing ourselves at the forefront of design and everyone needs to know that.”