Summer camps offer potential students an up-close, personal look at Missouri S&T

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On May 16, 2024

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Emily Espe, a rising sophomore in computer science, was pretty sure she wanted to go to S&T. Her older sister, an engineer, suggested she attend a summer camp just to make sure. Photo by Michelle Pipes, Missouri S&T.

Missouri University of Science and Technology was likely part of the future for Emily Espe and Jane Yates, but both S&T students say their experience at the school’s Art in the Ozarks Camp definitely helped them make a final decision. The camp, which the two attended in summer 2021 and was then named the Art of Science Camp, teaches science through hands-on art activities such as painting with E. Coli bacteria and making pottery out of organic matter that’s transformed by being burned in a fire pit. It is held at S&T’s Ozark Research Field Station.

Both Espe, a rising sophomore in computer science from nearby Dixon, Missouri, and Yates, a rising junior in environmental engineering from Knob Noster, Missouri, recall the opportunity to learn about S&T directly from the university’s students, who worked as camp counselors, and faculty, who led activities, as a primary driver in their decision to enroll.

For Espe, who grew up in the school’s shadow, going to S&T wasn’t a new idea.

“I’ve pretty much known I wanted to go to S&T and that I wanted to be an engineer since I was nine,” she says. “But my older sister is an engineer, and she wanted me to go to a summer camp just to make sure.”

The path Yates took to camp – and to S&T – wasn’t as direct. Her mother intended to register her and her older brother in an engineering camp, but somehow Yates ended up in the arts camp instead. There, she met Dr. Robin Verble, director of the research station, who led the camp. Getting to know Verble reinforced Yates’ plan to study environmental science, but then, during her senior year in high school, Yates took calculus and loved it. Not wanting to bail on her newfound passion for the mathematical study of continuous change, Yates shifted to environmental engineering.

Jane Yates, a rising junior in environmental engineering. Photo by Michelle Pipes, Missouri S&T.

“One thing the camp showed me is how easy it is to talk to S&T professors,” she says.

Espe arrived at camp with a basic understanding of what she’d like to do beyond college: teach technology. She’d considered becoming an animator, but realized she wanted art to remain a hobby rather than jumping into what she sees as a saturated profession. She discovered how much she likes computer science during a programming course at a career center in Waynesville, Missouri. It was there, as a high school student, that she earned several certifications, including C Sharp. She also competed in the Skills USA national fiber optic cabling competition as the Missouri champion. Skills USA is a workforce development organization for students.

In addition to meeting students and faculty, who answered her questions about what she should expect, and learning more about the campus, Espe’s favorite part of camp was getting to know people from other countries.

“I’m from a small town, and I wasn’t used to meeting people from other places,” she says. “My camp counselor was from Nigeria, and now, as an S&T student, I have friends from around the world.”

For Yates, there were aspects of S&T she found appealing before the summer camp. She knew she didn’t want to go to a large school, so the strong sense of community at S&T appealed to her. And she loves the nearby Meramec River. Her camp experience, however, pushed S&T straight to the top of her list. The counselors, the other girls who attended the camp that year and the accessibility and centrality of the field station are just a few of the factors that brought her to S&T.

S&T was the best choice, according to both students.

In addition to the full load of courses, Espe’s first year at S&T helped her become better at balancing her time between commuting, school and work at Fort Leonard Wood, where she works part-time selling clothing to military families.

As for Yates, she’s staying busy post-finals working with the Girl Scouts to plan an event at the research station in late May, which is part of her role as incoming president of S&T’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Other activities she’s gotten involved in include guiding tours for prospective students and their families, playing club volleyball, joining Engineers Without Borders, with which she’ll travel to Kenya this summer to work on a water treatment system for a school, and signing on as design lead for S&T’s Concrete Canoe Design Team.

“I’d heard all the stats, and I knew S&T was a good school, but I didn’t know just how many opportunities I’d have,” she says. “There’s so much to get involved in that’s great right now and that will benefit you professionally in the future.”

About Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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On May 16, 2024. Posted in Kummer Center for STEM Education

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