UA Engineering and Polymers wraps up summer programming


Research Experience for Teachers

Educators in the Research Experience for Teachers Summer Program include Chris Kriebel, Green High School; Jake Saylor, Green High School; Sally Garza, Lawrence School; Dori Hess, GlenOak High School. Not pictured: Dave Helmick, Stow High School.

And that’s a wrap.

The squeak of the wheels of carts hauling unused bottles of water and leftover science kits can be heard through the halls of the Auburn Science and Engineering Center as summer programming comes to a close.

From community events where we talked about the amazing world of polymers and the education you can receive at UA, to teacher trainings for STEM educators, to traditional summer camps for science loving kids, our campus was anything but quiet this summer.

Below is a recap of summer activities facilitated by staff and faculty in the College of Engineering and Polymer Science.

Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA) Outreach and Camps

AGPA stayed busy this summer through activities in the community as well as on campus. The first week of June, The University of Akron’s John Fellenstein (AKA “Professor Polymer”) traveled to Derby Downs to present an introduction to polymers lesson to the Soap Box Derby camp attendees. The campers, in grades 3-7, experimented with hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials and cross linking. In July and August, Fellenstein visited the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lorain County for polymer themed STEM sessions. The campers learned about biaxially stretched polystyrene (commonly known as Shrinky Dinks) and made unique pieces of art using this method.

AGPA also provided support to several camps taking place on campus this summer including the Makers of Tomorrow Camp (in collaboration with ConxusNEO), Women in STEM Camp (led by Heidi Cressman), Sports STEM Camp (In collaboration Missy Dreisbach and the School of Exercise and Nutrition Science) and Aim High/Gear Up Summer Camp Experience (in collaboration with Akron Public Schools).

Lastly, AGPA participated in two large community events in August—the Copley Heritage Day celebration and the Props and Pistons Air Show. Both events drew large crowds that enjoyed visiting the AGPA booth to understand the role of polymers!

ASM Materials Camp

From July 11-15, The University of Akron hosted an ASM Materials Camp®. This week-long, hands-on learning and lab experience shows K-12 educators how to bring science and engineering to the classroom using everyday materials. Eleven teachers from grades 3-12 were in attendance. Thanks to the ASM Foundation and support from The University of Akron, the annual camp is free, and teachers leave with a set of instructions and supplies for their own in-classroom activities.

Teachers completed materials activities ranging from growing copper sulfate crystals to rolling and then enameling copper metal. They learned how to demonstrate thermal expansion, incandescence, corrosion, and solid-state phase changes using an iron wire and electricity. They made giant clothes pins using a thermoset polymer and observed the hydrophilic/hydrophobic properties of polymer powders. The week ended with attendees firing glazed pots using a Raku method and drop testing cement composites. Shoutout to faculty Dr. Ed Evans and Dr. Jen Lillard in our Department of Chemical, Biomolecular, and Corrosion Engineering and staff volunteers Tony Craig and Jamie Stubkjear in the Department of Biology for facilitating such an awesome experience for the teachers!

Biomedical Engineering Summer Camp

Three area high school seniors participated in a biomedical engineering summer camp to explore science hands-on. The campers were selected as part of a partnership with Project GRAD Akron, a program aimed at improving the success of urban school students to ensure they graduate from high school and enter and complete a college education.

Organized by Dr. Hossein Tavana, Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the summer camp was a week-long immersive experience for rising seniors in Akron Public Schools. The campers learned how to safely work in a lab and participated in hands on activities including observing the difference between live and dead cells on the microscope, creating a stress-strain curve from an Instron test, and designing and 3D printing personalized key chains.

Research Experience for Teachers Program

Five local high school teachers participated in the Research Experience for Teachers program this past summer. For eight weeks, they worked with Dr. Kevin Cavicchi in the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering to develop new lesson modules focused on electronics and additive manufacturing for use in high school classrooms. This work was carried out as part of the Assured Digital Microelectronic Education and Training Ecosystem grant funded by the Air Force Research Lab.

Women in Engineering Summer Camps

Our annual summer camps for girls interested in STEM returned for another season! Our week-long camps for middle school and high school girls included fun lab activities, friendly student competitions, and the chance to talk to representatives from local engineering firms. Over 63 girls participated from Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Students had the opportunity to create polymers, learn about leaf structures, test broken bone stabilizing solutions, and conduct corrosion engineering lab experiments. Graduate students also led high school students to complete a small-scale research project in biomedical, polymer, chemical and mechanical labs while middle school students worked on a week-long design projects judged by judges from faculty and Nestle. In the afternoon, tours were held with corporate partners, First Energy, Whiting Turner, GE Healthcare, and camp sponsors Dominion and PPG Industries.

“Summer camp experiences should be enjoyed by all, yet for many children the experience is out of reach financially,” says Heidi Cressman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the College of Engineering and Polymer Science. “We were lucky to be able to offer these camps to because of the wonderful support from Dominion and PPG Industries. They gave girls a window into the amazing world of engineering.”


Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or