|Joe Coldiron '17
U.S. Air Force Academy Camp
USAFA SAME Engineering & Construction Camp, June 25 – July 01, 2015
The SAME Engineering & Construction Camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, CO is the longest running camp – 15 years. This is a hands-on program with very real engineering activities and challenges.
The camp theme is “Build then Design”. Activities are conducted with this concept in mind. For example, one of this camp’s most popular hands-on construction activities involves the construction and testing of a concrete beam. Students are given a basic lesson on concrete and safety issues, provided with 0.3 cubic yards of concrete, 3 pieces of #4 rebar and then told to construct the strongest 16 foot concrete beam. The campers, working as a Team, have approximately 3 hours to complete this activity and place their beam – this is the Build phase. Just before the end of camp, after the beams have cured, we break the beams, and a professional engineer leads a discussion on beam failure modes and why certain designs worked better than others – this is the Design phase. The idea is to let the students learn by doing and then reinforce the concepts after the practical application. This is typical of all activities during the week-long camp.
These tasks challenge students to use their imagination, as well as their problem solving and teamwork skills. The hands-on experience helps ensure that students see, experience and retain what they learn.
Throughout the week, students also build a sprinkler systems, wood shed, waste water system, test materials and participate in team-building and problem-solving activities. Students tour the USAFA laboratories and cadet facilities and spend time with a local A&E firm.
The USAFA camp is geared toward students interested in joining a service academy and is built on a reduced scale program of what a USAFA cadet in an engineering curriculum goes through using the same world-class facilities used by the USAFA cadets. The camp presents a great opportunity for students interested in attending a service academy to get a first-hand look at life on campus.