For six weeks from May 31 to July 10, 2015, a special program from the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Established in 2004, WiscAMP Excel is a science and engineering preparation program for first- or second-year undergraduates who are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Milwaukee School of Engineering, along with over 25 other Wisconsin colleges and universities, is part of the WiscAMP Alliance, allowing eligible MSOE students to participate in WiscAMP programs.

Papa Yorke, a sophomore electrical engineering student at MSOE, was provided with the unique opportunity to participate in WiscAMP Excel this summer. He and 18 other students were accepted to the program after submitting their transcripts, an application, and two essays describing both their choice to pursue a STEM major and their vision of how this program would help them reach their academic goals. Papa demonstrated his commitment to his education through his application and, after being selected, soon found himself on the way.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., a variety of classes and activities were planned for the students. Papa took a number of courses such as chemistry, biology, differential equations, technical composition and physics. Enrichment time was also provided during which the students took field trips to different labs and offices across the hosting campus. Professionals who were once in the students’ position spoke to them about opportunities they could pursue before and after graduation, such as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). They also were able to network with these and other professionals in the STEM field.

At the end of WiscAMP Excel, Papa and the other students presented research posters that reflected their interests, usually within the field they were in. They were given some class time to work on these, but most of the project had to be completed as homework during the students’ free time. Papa’s poster, which can be viewed in the picture provided in this article, was titled “Bringing Electricity to Millions Using Solar Power.”

Though it was hard work, Papa thoroughly enjoyed his experience participating in WiscAMP Excel and appreciates all that he has learned. “It was really good for narrowing what we wanted to do in our future with our major and also seeing the opportunities that are out there,” he describes. “I feel prepared going into my sophomore year and I’m excited for the challenges.”