Explorations in Engineering At Sigma Xi
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Please Note:

This workshop is held at the Sigma Xi facility in RTP. The Explorations in Engineering workshop concludes at 12:00pm.

Participants staying the whole day for additional workshops are expected to bring a packed lunch. There are no microwaves available for workshop participant use. Pick up is at 4:00pm. Participants that remain after 4:20pm will be charged a $25 dollar fee that will be added to the cost of the workshop. ALL participants must be picked up by 5:00pm when the Sigma Xi facility closes.


Sigma Xi

Course Description:

Sigma Xi is partnering with Shodor to host a 15-hour intensive workshop that will introduce rising 6th- 8th grade students to the primary elements of a computer-aided engineering design process through the exploration and development of small scale systems. Students will be provided with a set of design criteria and allowed to actively pursue their own engineered solutions through exploration and modeling. Participants will develop techniques in the measurement and collection of experimental data, the use of computational models to process data and aid design, and the construction of an engineered system.

The small-scale design systems are drawn primarily from a collection of disciplines including structural engineering (trusses, span bridges), 'aeronautical' engineering (projectile motion), electrical engineering (circuits and passive electronics), chemical engineering (computer modeling), and biomedical engineering (including discussions on nano-technology).

Educational Objectives:

Aspiring young adults will often display an interest and an aptitude for 'tinkering' - directly exploring how mechanical items, biological systems, electronics, and other systems function and then mentally creating alternatives or improvements to the design. The goal of this workshop is to promote analytical thinking using highly motivating interactive applications while providing a more traditionally academically based math and science context - in essence, introducing the culture of engineering in it's modern, computer-driven form. Students will learn to explore and question with the motive of eventually shaping the world around them and to work as a team.


Participants should be rising 6th-8th grade students or the equivalent and have a strong interest in science and technology. Although some experience with computer operation is helpful, it is not required. It should be noted that the emphasis of this program is engineering design through science, with computers and other instruments being used as investigative engineering design tools.