by Renee Tremblay ’20
This past summer, I had the opportunity to work as a counselor at Webb’s Summer Engineering Academy (SEA). I chose to spend my summer with Webb because I enjoy leading projects for kids, and helping others discover engineering. During the month of July, I lived on campus, helped run the weekday camp at Webb, and introduced young students to engineering with many fun, hands-on projects and team competitions.
When I signed up to be a camp counselor, I had no idea I would end up on an island paradise for a week, as a part of SEA. At the close of freshman year, I learned that the SEA program was going abroad to the Cayman Islands. After the two busy, tiring-but-worth-it sessions with about 35 campers at Webb, I hopped on a plane bound for George Town, Grand Cayman for one more week of teaching and enjoyment with three of my classmates. We were kindly set up at a fantastic condo on the beach, in walking distance of the venue where we would work during the week.
Before the program got started, I got to explore the island, relax on the beach, snorkel, and swim with stingrays! On Monday morning, we headed into work early to set up and anxiously await the arrival of the 15 local scholars who we were going to work with. The SEA students each wrote an essay, and were selected by Minds Inspired, a scholarship provider that focuses on fostering excellence in science and math in Caymanian students. Once the students arrived, we were greeted by a multitude of different accents and great personalities. The group were incredibly focused, and excited to be part of the program.
The week combined classroom time with various design and build projects, all leading up to the capstone, boat-building, team competition. The materials for the project included a sheet of plywood, some cable ties, duct tape, silicone sealant, wiring, switches, and motors. From these materials, teams had to construct a brick-carrying boat to race around in a pool in various competitions. The boat race is my favorite project because it really challenged the students in naval architecture, a field they previously did not know a lot about. It’s unfortunate that boat design and engineering are not well known in the Cayman Islands, where most goods arrive by sea.
I think the SEA program really benefited those students who were involved, and I hope it inspires them to explore various fields of engineering in their future academic careers. I hope this trial run of the Summer Engineering Academy in the Cayman Islands plants the seed that allows the program to continue to grow there in the future.