The HFES Diversity Committee and the Maryland Chapter of the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program conducted a five-week summer camp for young students. MESA is a precollege program that prepares students, particularly minority students, for university study in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. By expanding MESA’s previously established summer program to include human factors-related lectures, field experiences, demonstrations, and projects, the camp encouraged students to take the prerequisite courses needed for successful university study in human factors.
This article describes the 2001 MESA and HFES Summer Institute. Students gained admission to the camp based on three criteria: a demonstrated interest and achievement in science and mathematics, the recommendation of the student’s science or mathematics teacher, and an essay explaining the student’s interest in the program. Forty-two ninth- and tenthgrade students from the city of Baltimore and surrounding Maryland counties were accepted. Two Baltimore teachers, three college students, and one high school senior supervised the students at the camp.
Most camp activities were held at the Engineering School of Morgan State University in Baltimore. This location provided the additional bonus of NASA’s Aeronautical Education Laboratory (AEL); students were able to spend time completing assignments at AEL’s computerized workstations. At these workstations (meteorology, virtual reality flight, wind-tunnel control, remote
sensing, GPS and amateur radio communication, Internet/ World Wide Web, aircraft design, and aeronautics interactive), students obtained the information needed to plan a flight across the United States.
The instructional part of the camp began with an introduction to the field of human factors by HFES member Ronald Shapiro (IBM Corp.) and Raquel Shapiro (Rhode Island College). During this interactive session, entitled “Games to Explain Human Factors,” Shapiro taught students fundamental psychological
principles and demonstrated how knowledge of human capabilities and limitations should direct design.