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Middle and high school students interact with electromagnetic displays set up by ECE graduate students
July 18, 2023

ECE hosts summer academy students

Written By: Allyson Crowley


Middle and high school students from across the state visited the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-ECE) as part of Summer Academy 2023. The Positive Youth Development Program, sponsored by Wisconsin 4-H and Community Youth Development of UW-Madison Extension, offers participants seven areas of learning and career exploration within the program. Eric Severson, UW-ECE assistant professor and Grainger Institute Fellow, and Professor Joanna Skluzacek, 4-H STEM Specialist with UW-Madison Extension, along with UW student volunteers, hosted the group for an interactive learning session as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) area of exploration within the program.

PhD student Nathan Peterson shares his early interactions with STEM

To begin the session, several UW-ECE graduate students described their academic paths within the area of science and engineering that brought them to UW-Madison. PhD student Nathan Peterson shared that his interest began when he was a 4-H member at age nine. Severson, who also has roots as a 4-H youth member, said, “Part of our efforts to do this is to show the youth how the researchers and students here are people with a wide range of hobbies, interests, backgrounds, etc. and to help them picture themselves doing research or engineering projects.”

After Severson presented a short introduction to electronics and magnetics, the group moved on to the two interactive portions of the program. They were given a tour of work spaces in the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) area within Engineering Hall, and also encouraged to conduct hands-on electro-magnetic experiments set up for them by UW-ECE graduate students.

Participation in this program was made possible in part by a National Science Foundation CAREER award that Severson earned in 2020. “The outreach plan in my CAREER award is to extend the reach of the university into areas and communities of the state that don’t have equitable access to university resources and participation in STEM activities,” Severson explained. “We are particularly interested in trying to increase participation of girls, and also and youth from rural, economically disadvantaged regions.”

Assistant Professor Eric Severson introduces the topic of electromagnetics to the group
Students tour work spaces in the WEMPEC area of Engineering Hall
Students involved in hands-on learning in Engineering Hall
Three ECE students stand at tables with electromagnetic experiments
From left to right: UW-Madison undergraduate students Melina Mueller, Jessica Lindall and Sofia Fernandez
From left to right ECE graduate students: Aravind Manoj Nair, Nathan Petersen, Thomas Nguyen, Anirudh Upadhyaya, Nishanth, Dante Newman, and Divya Mendpara