High Schoolers Discover Engineering Through the LAU Lens

Resident summer camp enlightens aspiring engineers about the field and career paths.

By Raissa Batakji

The students tried their hand at design in the advanced technologies lab.
Exploring the Driller’s Console in the Drilling Simulation Lab.
Woodworking in the Manufacturing Lab.
The students are introduced to hydraulics in the Fluid Lab, which features state-of-the-art testing instruments.
At the Materials Lab, standard tests are performed on construction materials such as concrete aggregates, asphalt and metals, among others.
The students, pictured with Jureidini Wehbeh (far left) and Dr. Khoury (far right), hold up their Certificates of Completion.

In four sessions during July, the Discover Engineering resident summer camp, organized by the School of Engineering, gave young students a taste of the eight different engineering disciplines at LAU. Tailored for high schoolers who are considering the major, the experience combined learning and fun, and left the 98 campers hungry for more.

“The process involved problem-solving and introduced me to the field in the most fun way imaginable,” said 11th grader Franchesca Karam.

She appreciated the practical aspect of the camp that helped her confirm her preference for mechanical engineering and draw a tentative academic plan to pursue graduate studies in aeronautical engineering.

Another student who is considering mechanical engineering, 11th grader Rami Abdallah, was grateful for the opportunity to design a wing at the lab using specific software.

The students gained insight into mechanical, industrial, electrical, computer, mechatronics, civil, petroleum and chemical engineering and their respective career outlooks through presentations by department chairs. LAU faculty members mentored the campers in hands-on projects and interacted with them informally at events such as Barbeque Night, social outings, cultural trips and Movie Night.

The faculty noted the importance of allowing young engineering enthusiasts to learn about the subjects in-depth. One gave the example of how civil engineering is traditionally perceived as limited to building small structures. At the camp, students were excited to learn about the diverse career paths that the major can unlock.

Among the differentiators of the well-rounded program, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Caesar Abi Shdid mentioned the unparalleled attention to the young students and the enthusiastic and diverse faculty.

He noted, furthermore, the state-of-the-art labs and equipment — some of which were funded by the US Agency for International Development’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) — which make experiential learning possible. The latter, an American best practice dearly upheld at LAU through ASHA’s support for its ability to improve learning outcomes, was actually shared amongst the campers. In this case, that benefit extended to young citizens beyond the campus community who were able to learn about the field of engineering by operating highly specialized, world-class equipment.

“Our innovative curriculum is continuously evolving to incorporate current issues such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and new technologies in pedagogy,” he said.

LAU engineering students catered to the campers’ day-to-day needs, accompanying them throughout the program, helping them with projects in the labs, organizing their outings and liaising with the faculty. 

Summer Camp Director and Principal Engineering Lab Supervisor Nicole Jureidini Wehbeh spoke of the camp as an enriching learning environment. “The students worked in groups and learned hands-on, using tools and machines that they would not have otherwise been exposed to,” she said, in reference to some of the advanced ASHA-funded equipment.

Another highlight of the camp was the diversity of the students’ backgrounds, who had registered from different areas in Lebanon and abroad. “We’ve had students sign up from Qatar, the UAE, Iraq, France and England,” many of whom were Lebanese expats, said Wehbeh.

“At LAU, we are dedicated to fostering academic excellence, empowering student-centered learning, and cultivating future leaders who actively engage with their communities,” said Dr. Michel Khoury, dean of the School of Engineering. “Through our Discover Engineering summer camp, we inspire young minds to explore diverse disciplines, embrace innovation, and become well-rounded individuals ready to shape a better, more inclusive world.”

For 11th graders Franchesca Karam and Serena Sader, the friendship they formed was the highlight of the summer camp, and they looked forward to nurturing it through their final year at school, “until hopefully, we meet again here at LAU as engineering students.”