PCC launches camp with support from local businesses and organizations

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Riverdale High School triplets, from left, Ashira, Sema and Selena Hasan recently participated in a science, math, engineering and technology camp at Portland Community College-Sylvania.Riverdale High School triplets Ashira, Selena and Sema Hasan have been involved in robotics since they were in elementary school.

Since fourth grade, the trio has been in FIRST Robotics, a program that encourages children to pursue math and science. The sisters have been involved in the FIRST Robotics Competition for the past three years, an international contest in which each group designs, builds and programs a robot. Robots perform tasks, and the creation that does those tasks best wins.

Area businesses and organizations’ donation of $30,000 to the Portland Community College Foundation, helped afford the three 17-year-olds with another opportunity a few weeks ago to drink in more science, technology, engineering and mathematics: the all-girls FIRST robotics camp at the PCC-Sylvania campus.

“What inspired me to take this class was that girls have often been stereotypically considered not being able to do things like working in a machine shop,” Selena Hasan said.

The FIRST Robotics Shop Training Summer Camps are offered through PCC’s Machine Manufacturing Technology Program, and a National Science Foundation STEM grant also supports the camps.

PCC officials say the camps offer another chance to foster students’ interest in STEM. Such camps also can supplement school coursework.

Kim Kono, PCC Foundation development director, said the majority of attendees at the other FIRST camp are male.

“Funders really loved the idea of supporting an all-girls camp and providing STEM skills to young women,” Kono said.

Instructors teach students the engineering basics of robotics, spending time in a machine shop.

Sema Hasan said students learned how to safely operate machines such as a drill press, a milling machine and a lathe as well as how to use a micrometer screw gauge for precise measurements. Using the micrometers, the students performed projects including creating a drill gage, which is a flat steel plate with holes in it for various drill bit sizes.

She said she it was rewarding to make things, and she found her teacher funny and talented.

“I have to admit I was scared thinking about using the machines at first, but once we actually got started with our projects, it was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be,” Sema Hasan said. “I would highly recommend this camp to any girl interested in learning how to learn to use machines or just learning something new.”

About 40 students from throughout the area attended the two camps, and 22 students were girls. At least three of those girls said they enjoyed the STEM camp.

“If I could I would go again,” Ashira Hasan said.

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