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Tech it Out students learn all summer long

A group of Tech it Out students in the Zero Robotics program are shown here at MIT with astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman.

The Office of Continuing Education wrapped up the fifth edition of its Tech It Out program on Aug. 10. The program offers weekly STEAM-focused programs (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) to students in elementary through high school from June to August.

Approximately 280 students registered for 22 different programs this year, led by CCSU faculty from Technology & Engineering Education, Computer Electronics & Graphics Technology, Biomolecular Science, Computer Science, Manufacturing and Construction, and Journalism.

“We try to make Tech It Out both fun and educational,” says Patrick Foster, a professor of Technology & Engineering Education. “The kids keep coming back, so we must be doing something right!”

Associate professor of Technology & Engineering Education Michele Dischino helped to usher in the program’s first all-girls residential program.

"It was exciting to be a part of Tech It Out's first residential program and to see so many young women interested in learning more about biomedical engineering and genetics," Dischino notes.

This year, several School of Engineering, Science and Technology graduates and local business owners and elementary-school teachers joined the faculty to offer more programming across a variety of disciplines; among them, robotics, Zero Robotics, graphic design, broadcasting, coding, multimedia, and more. SEPS student Kristin Mazzini, an Elementary Education major who will graduate in December, was hired to work with the students as a program instructor, caregiver, and residential assistant.

Throughout the summer, some sections of Tech it Out students travel off campus for program-specific field trips. Destinations this year included MIT, where students met astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman; the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton; Jackson Laboratories in Farmington, the CT Science Center in Hartford, the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks; and the Hartford Yard Goats’ Dunkin’ Donuts Park, where sports journalism students put their new skills to use during a game.

Corporate sponsors this year included Stanley, The Arthur G. Russell Company, 3M, Trumpf, Ulbrich, and The Jackson Laboratory. Over the last four years, sponsors have donated more than $75,000 to Tech It Out. Those funds help to keep program costs low and support scholarships for students from underrepresented groups, according to ConEd Director Christa Sterling.

“Many area businesses are eager to support this program and encourage kids’ interest in STEAM-related programs," Sterling says. "One company president told me, ‘This program has the most direct correlation to what we do and the highest potential to score a future engineer!’”

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