The UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) is gearing up to host a summer day camp specifically targeted to 8th, 9th and 10th graders from underrepresented communities.

Camp Connect, to be held July 16-20 on UCF’s Orlando campus, is the first major initiative of CECS’s new Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The office was established last year to increase diversity within the college.

The camp is designed to encourage and inspire girls and children of color to excel in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) discipline, and specifically an engineering specialty. Targeting 8th, 9th and 10th graders allows participants enough time in their remaining high school years to best prepare for a college engineering curriculum.

Students will participate in hands-on-activities, visit working labs, and have a chance to meet with professors. At the end of the week, campers will participate in a team project, give presentations and receive awards.

“Many students in the grades we’re targeting don’t know what engineering is,” said Fidelia Nnadi, a civil engineering associate professor and director of the CECS Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “When they come to the UCF campus, and specifically to our college, they start to envision themselves in this environment. That experience sparks a belief that they can be here just like anyone else.”

Students will meet with professors within CECS’s departments and divisions which are: Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Division of Computer Science and Division of Electrical and Computer Engineering); Industrial Engineering and Management Systems; and Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering.

The goal is to have at least 100 participants in Camp Connect. CECS plans to follow their academic progress over the next several years to determine whether the camp is an effective way to increase diversity in its student body.

“We want to see more female, African-American, Latino and Native American students in our college, so that our student body reflects the environment we live in,” Nnadi said.

Camp Connect will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cost is $50 for the week. Those interested may register online by June 30 at For more information, contact the CECS Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 407-823-3466.

The CECS Office of Diversity and Inclusion works with faculty and staff to constantly improve recruitment, mentoring and retention of students from underrepresented groups. The more diverse CECS is, the more students are able to gain a competitive advantage in the global economic and technological market.