NEWARK, March 29- Twelve-year-old Nicole Howard,
of Willingboro, has spent the past two summer vacations playing with
airplane parts, designing web pages, and learning computer programming
languages. A four-week, pre-college summer program sponsored by New
Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, has provided the instruction.
This coming summer Howard, a seventh grader at Hawthorne
Middle School in Willingboro, will once again attend at NJIT's Mount
Laurel campus, the same pre-college program: Females in Engineering-Methods,
Motivation, Experience (FEMME). FEMME teaches young women in grades
four to eight that science, math and engineering is fun, understandable
and open for success.
The NJIT Center for Pre-College Programs (CPCP) offers
on the NJIT Newark campus FEMME as well as 13 other summer programs
in science, math, technology and engineering for youngsters in grades
four to eleven. Tuition ranges from $100 to $650. Students may obtain
an application for the session (July 2 to August 6) from the CPCP
office (973-596-3550). Completed applications must be returned by
Since 1978, the CPCP has helped thousands of students
and educators in kindergarten through twelfth grade participate in
programs like FEMME. The pre-college programs especially provide opportunities
for women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities to pursue
technological fields that traditionally have been closed to them,
says CPCP executive director and founder Howard Kimmel, Ph.D., an
NJIT chemical engineering professor. Of the pre-college students,
55 percent are female, 45 percent are male.
"NJIT has long recognized that minding the pipeline
at the secondary level is no longer sufficient. Instead, we must reach
the youngsters at the elementary level and provide a continuous nurturing
environment that minimizes the leakage," says Kimmel.
Research has shown that early intervention makes a difference
in students' lives. A recent CPCP survey shows that of the 3,407 students
enrolled in pre-college programs from 1980 to 1997, 76 percent of
them had graduated or were in an undergraduate college program in
1997. Approximately 65 percent of them had selected a technological
career, including engineering, science, computer and information systems
Lea Chan, of Kearny, participated in FEMME in 1994.
Now in her fourth year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy,
New York, this bioengineering major fondly remembers her pre-college
days. "It almost seemed like summer camp even though we were
doing math problems and writing essays. Just being around the (instructors)
Virginia Mayo, of Jersey City, who is now a junior at
NJIT majoring in computer engineering and management, thanks FEMME
for helping her decide to go into engineering. "If anything influenced
my career path, it was that program. It got the ball rolling for me,"
Jessica Oribabor, of Pennsauken, in the eighth grade
at a local middle school,
Aracelis Caban, of Newark, another NJIT student, credits
FEMME for opening up new career paths. "The program helped me
realize that I was not limited to certain careers," says Cabalis,
a senior majoring in engineering management.
"Too many students stop studying science and mathematics
as soon as they can and are not encouraged to pursue advanced level
courses in these gate-keeping subjects," adds Kimmel. "Without
this education, they are literally closed forever to the rewarding
higher education programs and careers before they even finish high
school. Participating in pre-college programs like FEMME can change
that tide and offer more options."
NJIT is a public research university enrolling over 8,200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral students in 80 degree programs through its five colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, the School of Management and the Albert Dorman Honors College. Research initiatives include manufacturing, microelectronics, multimedia, transportation, computer science, solar astrophysics, environmental engineering and science, and architecture and building science. According to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine rankings, NJIT has been America's most wired public university for three consecutive years.