To design a hair dryer that is technically innovative and commercially viable: that is the challenge facing three-year veterans of VESTED (Villanova Engineering, Science, and Technology Enrichment and Development), a high-school outreach program that kicked off its fifth year in January in the College of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Education and Research.
The entrepreneurship component, which will be taught by faculty from the College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business, is the newest feature of VESTED and underscores the program’s mission. That mission, said Dr. Stephen Jones, the College’s Associate Dean of Student and Strategic Programs, “is to awaken in students the potential to become our nation’s future engineers, thus increasing the pool of technological leaders.”
Collaborating with Dr. Jones are Linda Coleman, the University’s Associate Director for Multicultural Affairs, and graduate student Rebecca Stein ME ’07. According to Stein, who has been involved in VESTED since its inception, the program is accomplishing its mission. “Six of our seniors have said they plan to major in engineering. That’s gratifying to hear.”
This year’s cohort of 45 students, who are recruited primarily through the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of College and Career Awareness, had to apply and interview before being accepted. During the eight Saturday sessions, the first- and second-year students will perform experiments in different engineering disciplines, while the third-year students will learn how to become market-savvy designers.
VESTED students must attend all sessions, participate in all activities, and keep detailed notes. To help them meet these goals, 28 Villanova mentors, many of whom belong to the Sophomore Service Learning Community, directed by Noreen Cameron, work closely with the high schoolers. They accompany the students to the labs and help them fill out their notebooks and follow instructions.
VESTED receives funding from the Hamilton Family Foundation, the Patricia Kind Family Foundation, Wachovia Bank, Air Products and Chemicals, and the College of Engineering.