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November 22, 2002

Summer Programs Make a Lasting Impression — Former SITE Attendees Return as Counselors

NC State students (Left to right: front row) Angela De Luca, Claire Antosek, (back row) Anderson Hungria, Kevin Coley and Dan Edwards were involved in the engineering summer programs in June 2002. (Not pictured: Matt Foley and Billy Kidney)

For most college students, the summer break is a time away from campus to get a job, go to summer school or just relax. But the summer of 2002 found five NC State University engineering students still in residence on campus, ready to spend their days showing the world of engineering to interested high school students.

For each of these five students, attending the popular Student Introduction to Engineering (SITE) summer program as high school students was the deciding factor in coming to NC State. Now these students want to help a new crop of aspiring engineers.

These students — Claire Antosek (civil engineering), Kevin Coley (textile engineering), Angela De Luca (electrical engineering), Dan Edwards (aerospace engineering) and Anderson Hungria (mechatronics) — became counselors in the SITE program, where their positive experiences and enthusiasm pay dividends for both the university and the high schoolers.

When they were in high school, these counselors all knew they wanted to do something technical. But with the field of engineering so vast and the definition of “engineer” sometimes a bit murky, they weren’t sure exactly what they wanted to study. The SITE program helped them understand enough about engineering to decide which discipline within engineering they were most interested in. According to Antosek, “The experiences I had in the SITE program helped me make up my mind that I wanted to study engineering and that I wanted to go into civil engineering in particular.”

Hungria, who is from Brazil, knew he wanted to do something with computers. Both his parents are engineers, and he came to SITE to “get a feel for the college experience in the United States.” He added, “I really liked the facilities at NC State — the computer labs and the programs.” For Edwards, who knew he wanted to be an aerospace engineer, the facilities at NC State were also a selling point. “I toured several campuses, and NC State has by far the best facilities. When I was here for SITE, the other students showed me around. The senior design labs, the wind tunnel and the graduate labs are all awesome,” he said.

Being active in SITE as campers and subsequently counselors has advantages for these five students as well. “It gives us the opportunity to network, to meet people at NC State and the College of Engineering through our SITE activities,” said De Luca. Antosek agreed, “We meet all kinds of helpful people — folks like Kay Leager, the departmental advisors and the administrative assistants. I met all of them before I even came to school here. That really helped me a lot.”

For these five students, the learning experience associated with SITE goes beyond the opportunity to help others and the possibilities for networking. “For me the best thing is being able to talk to these high school kids about life, about who they are and who they want to be,” said De Luca. Coley has learned how to handle difficult people — both the “loud kids” and the “quiet kids” — and how to interact with all kinds of people. The responsibilities given to counselors and the knowledge that they were representing NC State to the outside world was a maturing experience for Hungria, a feeling echoed by the other students.

Helping high school students find their way was a big incentive for all five students to return to SITE as counselors. “I find working with the high school students very rewarding,” said De Luca. For Hungria, it’s about helping the students find a comfort level about their upcoming college experience — for them not to be afraid to go to college any more. Antosek summed it up: “If I can help someone make it to college with confidence, I think it’s a worthwhile thing to do.”

The SITE program yields concrete rewards for both the high school participants and the NC State student guides. “It’s a lot of hard work to be a counselor in this program,” said Hungria, “but helping students make the transition between high school and college gives us a great feeling of having done something positive.”

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