From July 16 to 21, 2023, 75 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) students gathered on the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) campus for the inaugural MSOE Explore Summit. A nomination-based event, the summer experience drew rising juniors and seniors from four states, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota, to experience MSOE’s eight engineering degree pathways in a week-long, immersive residential summer camp for future engineers.
How Students Were Selected for the Engineering Summer Camp
MSOE invited PLTW high school teachers from the Midwest to nominate historically underrepresented students to participate in the engineering summer camp at no cost, allowing the students to gain additional exposure to engineering and the university experience. Camp spots filled within two weeks, and MSOE developed a waiting list.
With financial support from local industry partners like Direct Supply, Associated Bank, and the Kern Family Foundation, Kim Schultz, MSOE Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations and Dr. Dan Bergen, MSOE Senior Advisor to the President, were able to fully fund the engineering summer camp and offer travel stipends for families.
“Given MSOE’s and PLTW’s shared reputation for hands-on learning, and the continued interest in developing future talent, our corporate and foundation partners saw significant value in engaging PLTW high school youth,” Dr. Bergen said.
Engineering Summer Camp Agenda
During the engineering summer camp, the students spent an entire week on campus expanding their PLTW classroom experiences. Students spent half-days learning about MSOE’s eight engineering pathways through hands-on activities combined with real-world experiential learning led by university faculty. In addition to learning more about each of the fields, students met industry professionals and PLTW alumni during tours of Direct Supply’s Innovation & Technology Center and Associated Bank.
MSOE and PLTW
“MSOE values the partnership we have with PLTW. More than 50 percent of our incoming freshmen have participated in Project Lead The Way, and this is another way in which the partnership between PLTW and MSOE continues to grow and thrive,” said MSOE President Dr. John Walz.
MSOE currently offers an automatic $3,000 renewable scholarship to all PLTW students who attend MSOE.
“MSOE values PLTW students. They are better prepared for college and are overall more confident,” said MSOE Dean of Admissions Paul Borens.
In addition to the existing scholarship, students who attended the Explore Summit engineering summer camp also received a $1,000 renewable scholarship.
“The students’ foundational skills from their PLTW classes really made the camp experience so much better,” said Nick Seidler, coordinator of special on-campus events.
Multiple students reported that they were able to easily participate in these new situations because they had been exposed to crucial terminology and technical skills in their PLTW high school courses. Several students shared the camp helped grow their confidence in their college degree pathway choice, while other students stated the camp opened their eyes to new degree options.
How the MSOE Explore Summit Started
The idea for the Explore Summit originally sparked from a conversation between MSOE’s President, Dr. John Walz, PLTW President and CEO Dr. David Dimmett, and PLTW Board Member Jim Rahn. It led to many collaborative months of planning between MSOE leadership and the PLTW Strategic Partnerships Team.
“Facilitating and deepening relationships with our university partners and bringing experiential learning like the Explore Summit enhances the students’ classroom experience and helps solidify their choice to pursue a STEM career,” said Dr. Heather Baker, PLTW senior director of strategic partnerships.
“We look forward to building more experiential learning opportunities for PLTW students with our higher education partners in the coming year and beyond,” said Dr. Glade Montgomery, PLTW senior vice president of strategic partnerships. “We truly value the relationships we have and are excited about the possibility of adding to our growing list of partnerships to honor and expand our students’ experiences in the classroom.”