Robots, Catapults and Bridge Breaking … Campers Smack Down with Some Friendly Competition as 2022 CCPREP Comes to a Close
Flint Hills Resources recognized for generosity as lead sponsor for 10 years to support engineering camp designed to inspire young minds to pursue STEM
Article by Rosa Linda Reynoso/Melinda Eddleman
One way for young geniuses to occupy their time during the summer is to participate in the Corpus Christi Prefreshman Engineering Camp (CCPREP) held at Del Mar College each year. The program is part of the statewide Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program that encourages young minds to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.
This year, 37 youth chose to spend part of their summer hitting the books, creating engineering wonders and learning about programming instead of heading for the beach or pool or spending time playing video games. Campers also heard lectures by STEM professionals who provided insight into what the future holds for them.
Each year, campers hold their own smack down focused on robots, catapults and architectural wonders.
But, before the friendly competition started, CCPREP organizers recognized Flint Hills Resources as the program’s lead sponsor for the past 10 years with a plaque presentation to Jake Reint, Vice President of Public Relations for Flint Hills Corporate Offices, and Andy Saenz, Corpus Christi Regional Director of Public Relations at Flint Hills Resources.
The company has donated approximately $150,000 over the past decade to support the program.
“Our Prefreshman Engineering Program would have ceased to exist ten years ago had the College not been fortunate enough to begin a partnership with Flint Hills Resources as our lead sponsor,” said James Shollenberger, DMC Associate Professor of Mathematics and CCPREP Co-Director. “Flint Hills continues to be a generous partner; and in addition to their nearly $150,000 of fiscal support over the past decade, we also partner with them every year to bring in several teams of professional engineers from their Corpus Christi refinery to talk to our first-year students about different engineering specialists that the plant employs. We simply could not ask for a better long-term partner than Flint Hills Resources.”
Shollenberger noted that part of the company’s decade-long support included a one-time gift of $20,000 to outfit the program’s entire first-year group with new robotic equipment. That donation was made in 2017.
After the formalities, the sixth through ninth graders exhibited what they learned by showcasing their STEM skills with robot races that demonstrated their programming capabilities of custom-made robotic vehicles that navigated a race course, strength tests of plastic straw bridges built to show their understanding of engineering principles and architectural model communities designed under the mentorship of members from the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
CCPREP is a six-week educational opportunity offered free to participants. Through the generosity of Flint Hills Resources and other sponsors––Del Mar College, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Texas Department of Transportation, Citgo and the Coastal Bend Community Foundation––high ability middle school- through high school-age students interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields continue expanding their learning during the summer without any major gaps between consecutive school years.
CCPREP is challenging and rigorous, including classroom study, homework and group projects. Campers are also exposed to various career opportunities with experts covering areas supported by STEM.
This year’s speakers talked about careers ranging from accounting; computer science; and various engineering options to meteorology, nursing and other topics. Those guest speakers represented various organizations and companies from the Coastal Bend, including the Corpus Christi Independent School District’s Collegiate High School, Chemours, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries, Del Mar College, Flint Hills Resources, KOCH, National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Valero Energy and the 148 Nueces County District Court.
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.