Northern Illinois University

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News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

April 22, 2009

Exxon Mobil sponsors science camp at NIU

DeKalb, Ill. — The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University has been selected as one of 30 institutions nationwide that will host the Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp Program.

The two-week residential camp, which will be held June 14-26 on NIU’s main campus in DeKalb, is designed to provide traditionally under-served and under-represented middle school students across the country with a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and encourage them to pursue careers in those fields.

“Our country needs future scientists and engineers and these camps are an investment in that future,” said Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, which sponsors the program created by former NASA astronaut Bernard Harris, who was the first African-American to walk in space.

“We are honored to be part of this much-needed program. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the need for the United States to graduate more engineers,” said NIU-CEET Dean Promod Vohra. “To reach that goal we must work harder at recruiting women and minority students who presently give little thought to careers in the field. We are very grateful to Exxon Mobil Bernard Harris Foundation for helping us extend our efforts in that regard.”

“Life in Motion: Seen and Unseen,” will be the theme for the camp, said NIU Associate Dean, PI and Executive Camp Director Mansour Tahernezhadi. At the camp, students will be exposed to an integrated curriculum in physical and life sciences, engineering, mathematics and technology, jointly taught by NIU faculty and secondary classroom teachers, who also receive professional development training as part of the camp. Activities include classroom study, experiments, individual, team and group projects, and two field excursions to the Challenger Center in Woodstock, Ill. Students are also expected to have an opportunity to meet Bernard Harris himself during the camp.

“By working together with the Engineering & Engineering Technology College we increase exposure to the many educational, hands-on learning opportunities available here at our Woodstock facility,” said Steve Otten, the director of the Challenger Center.

“This program nicely complements our existing outreach activities ranging from Saturday Academies to summer camps for middle school and high school girls,” said Suma Rajashankar, the camp director. “Early engagement of middle students in hands on STEM-related projects is very critical in helping them identify with STEM fields and professions.”

Administrators at NIU have already sent applications to eligible schools throughout the university service area. To be eligible for the camp interested students from those schools must have a B average in math and science, score at the median to superior level on standardized mathematics exams, and write a 250-word essay detailing why they are interested in attending the camp. They must also secure a recommendation from their current math and science teachers.

For more information, visit the NIU-CEET Web page at

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