Penn State Intercom......August 9, 2001

South African students participate
in engineering camp for young women

The University's Venture in Engineering Camp (VEC-Tour) is host to its share of young women from far off places, but this year a group has traveled an enormous distance to participate in the camp.

A dozen female students from South African high schools participated in VEC-Tour along with 30 American women. The camp was sponsored jointly by the colleges of Engineering and Earth and Mineral Sciences. VECtour

"The idea of the camp is to reach out to girls who have the aptitude and ability to do engineering but haven't been exposed to it yet," said Barbara Bogue, the camp's co-organizer and director of the college's Women in Engineering Program. "We're offering them a window into engineering."

Co-coordinating the camp was Cynthia Freeman Fail, coordinator of minority programs in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

The weeklong camp included activities designed to give the girls a taste of different engineering disciplines. The students participated in laboratory experiments, design projects, team-building exercises and tours. The girls worked with the College's faculty and also had the opportunity to speak with industry professionals.

This year's camp exposed students to acoustics, bioengineering, materials and environmental engineering. The women constructed acoustic lasers, EKG machines and LED flashlights as part of their experience.

The idea to bring women from South Africa to the camp came through conversations with a South African educator Bogue met at a previous meeting, Nomsa Dlamini.

"We talked about how nice it would be to have them here and have a multicultural camp," Bogue explained. She said the University was able to offer the South African girls scholarships to attend the camp, but the cost of flying across the Atlantic was paid for by the girls' families.

Bogue said the students came from three areas in South Africa -- Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

"We thought it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and we wanted a whole new experience," said Mukelile Zulu, an 18-year-old student from Durban, South Africa. Zulu, incidentally, also is an African princess -- daughter of South African Zulu Nation leader King Zwelitaini.

She and her 17-year-old friend from Durban, Nomsa Zulu, said the experience was so wonderful that they're interested in attending Penn State for college.

"We want to see if it'd be possible to come here later on," Mukelile Zulu said. "The people here are amazing."