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Next Engineers Greenville: Engineering Camp 2024 Reflection

Brittany Fatima Sanders-Bell
July 03, 2024

This summer, Next Engineers Greenville selected 100 students across South Carolina to visit Clemson University for a week of engineering exploration. From how aerospace engineers design aircrafts to soar across the sky to how mechanical engineers cool a race car’s engine to reach top speeds, campers worked with engineers from different fields to learn how engineering connects with the world around us.

The fun didn’t stop there! Campers interacted with Clemson University College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences students, faculty, and staff to experience life on a university campus to help foster a vision of themselves as future engineering students. We dined with Clemson University Dining, ventured around Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, and toured GE Vernova. Our campers enjoyed a truly unique summer experience.


Meet the Next Engineers Greenville: Engineering Camp Team


Zuo Zhou, Ph.D. – Engineering Design Challenge Facilitator

Her students like to call her Dr. Z! She is currently a lecturer at Clemson University, teaching first year engineering students. Dr. Z enjoys working with students with a strong passion for STEM majors and seeing them thrive in engineering careers. This summer, Dr. Z engaged campers in a series of engineering design challenges, introducing them to the engineering design process. The design challenges included investigating how potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, exposing campers to basic coding and programming principles, and water conversation.


Raul Chavez-Negrete, DBA, M.S. – College and Career Readiness Facilitator

Dr. Chavez is a Professor of Practice and Program Coordinator for the Master’s in Engineering in Industrial Engineering Program at Clemson University. He is passionate about integrating business, management, and engineering subjects in his courses and mentoring high school-aged students in underrepresented communities in STEM. During our camp weeks, Dr. Chavez encouraged campers to strengthen their teamwork skills, think creatively in engineering, learn through trial and error, and more!


Robbie Albertson – Capstone Project Facilitator

Mr. Albertson is the Aerospace Engineering instructor at Pickens County Career and Technology Center. A private pilot, teacher, and business owner, Mr. Albertson is a wealth of knowledge for high school students across the Upstate of South Carolina. He’s been an instrumental Next Engineers Greenville team member since our launch in 2021. This summer, Mr. Albertson led our capstone project, Blimp. In this project, campers used helium balloons to design and build their own self-propelled airship or blimp able to fly across a room. Blimp allowed campers to explore buoyancy, stability, drag, and jet propulsion.


Activities and Guest Speakers


Tour of Memorial Stadium

While at camp, campers were given backstage access to Memorial Stadium. Jordan Whitehead, Associate Director of Athletic Facilities, shared the history of Death Valley and Howard’s Rock with our group and allowed our campers to “run” down the hill.



skillsgapp & Skillionaire Games

Campers heard from John and Tina Zwolinski about different STEM career opportunities in South Carolina. Through the Zwolinskis’ innovative mobile career game, Rad Lab, campers were introduced to a new way to learn about medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and research packing design in a fun way.

Engineering and Racecars 

Devin Hofmann is a GE volunteer with a need for speed. As a mechanical engineer, she uses her engineering skills to drive her passion, racing. Devin spoke with campers about how engineering concepts like aerodynamics play a significant role in the design of race cars. She brought in equipment, parts, and swag from her sponsors (Turbosmart, K&N, Extreme Turbo Systems, Verus Engineering, XClutch USA, and Motul) to help campers better understand the makings of a race car. Devin also surprised the group by inviting Alan Patten to bring his personal racecar for campers to explore.



Luncheon and Gallery Walk

Campers, their families, and GE volunteers joined us at the Watt Family Innovation Center for a luncheon and gallery walk. During our luncheon, guests listened to campers share their engineering camp journeys and participated in an engineering design challenge. With the assistance of campers and GE volunteers, we tasked groups to design and build a catapult that could fire a ping-pong ball as far as possible using only ten popsicle sticks and ten elastic bands. After testing each design, camp counselors awarded each camper a camp completion certificate. We couldn’t thank everyone enough for supporting our campers at the luncheon.


GE Vernova Tour

Friday was field trip day. Campers toured one of GE Vernova’s service centers located in Greenville, South Carolina. During the tour, campers met GE Vernova volunteers who design wind and gas turbines and are passionate about sharing their engineering careers with the next generation. 


Campers had a blast this summer! Our Clemson University PEER & WISE staff, GE Vernova Volunteers, and community created a safe space for the next generation of engineers to explore engineering education and career paths. We can’t wait to see what next summer brings.