UD Hosts TexPREP for High School Students Interested in STEM Careers

UD Hosts TexPREP for High School Students Interested in STEM Careers

 


For the second year in a row, UD is hosting the Texas Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (TexPREP), which was founded in 1976 by a mathematics professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Students may participate in the program for up to four years (from the summer prior to seventh grade through the summer prior to their sophomore year of high school). North Lake College offers Years I and II of the program; last year, UD offered Year III, and this year, additionally, UD is one of only two locations in the Dallas area to offer Year IV (the other is the University of North Texas Dallas campus).

Students come mostly from Irving Independent School District, which helps sponsor the program, providing transportation and meals for its students. For six weeks (through July 24), students are bussed to UD every morning and are on campus for both breakfast and lunch. Year III students (rising high school freshmen), take Probability and Statistics and Technical Writing. Year IV students (rising high school sophomores) take Computer Science as well as one advanced science course, which is subject to change from year to year. This year it is Computer-Aided Design (CAD).

UD tries to find teachers from Irving ISD when possible; this year, one teacher is from Irving ISD, one is from Richardson ISD, one is UDs Affiliate Instructor of Mathematics Teresa Schichl, and several are graduate students from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). In fact, this years field trip was to UTD to see some of these teachers in action. Last year, students went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth as well as to AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This year, they will focus most of their exploration on the UD campus.

TexPREP has five main goals:

  1. To encourage exploration of the many STEM careers.
  2. To give students insight into the life of a college student.
  3. To educate students on the college application process.
  4. To encourage problem-solving skills, organizational skills and good study habits, emphasizing the necessity of these things in high school, college and the workplace.
  5. To help students achieve mastery of year-specific materials.

Irving ISD counselors talk to sixth-graders who they believe would be interested in the program; students must have good grades and submit an application and two teacher recommendation letters. Any student meeting these qualifications is eligible, though the program does attempt to recruit female, minority and economically disadvantaged students. For the program at North Lake and UD, priority is given to Irving ISD students, although students from other districts can also participate. The program is completely free of cost for Irving ISD students, with nominal fees for students from other districts.

Only 25 students are accepted each year. Currently, nine Irving ISD students, four Dallas ISD students and one student from Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth are in the process of completing their fourth year, and 13 Irving ISD students are in Year III.

I love getting to know the students, seeing them grow and start to think about their futures, said Sylvia Whiteacre, BA 10, Education Department administrative assistant and onsite TexPREP director. Some of them might even end up coming to UD.

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