Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Students pick up STEM, college skills at STEM Boot Camp

August 19, 2019   /   by John Hollis

When George Mason University geology professor Julia A. Nord, a STEM Accelerator faculty member, envisioned the university’s STEM Boot Camp, she saw a holistic approach that incorporated student passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with a need to prepare for upcoming college life.

Hosted by Mason’s College of Science, the STEM Boot Camp, which ran August 11-16, accomplished both. The residential camp included lab experiences, exam preparation and lectures by Mason faculty.

Incoming Mason freshmen took exams similar to those they will see in their first semester of college and learned how to improve their study habits. They received added benefits of advising and career sessions, while working and living with other Mason freshmen in STEM-related majors.

“When school starts, I won’t be struggling as much,” said Jason Mercado, an incoming freshman from Springfield, Virginia who received a scholarship from the Honors College to attend the camp.

This year’s camp, which offered lab experiences in physics, chemistry, engineering and biology, included 23 men and 14 women, and featured a diverse student representation.

“I like STEM, and I also wanted to get ahead,” said incoming freshman Hilal Berhe from Springfield, Virginia.

“We are trying to keep students already interested in STEM at Mason and keep their passion for STEM and enabling them to succeed in core classes,” said Nord, who teaches in Mason’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences.

The annual STEM Boot Camp was open to all incoming freshmen and offered students two available tracks in biology/chemistry and math/physical sciences/engineering. The camp was originally founded a few years ago by former Mason professor Claudette Davis and overseen by Padhu Seshaiyer, a professor of mathematical science and associate dean of the College of Science.

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