U.Va. MEDIA ADVISORY: Former Astronaut Prepares Area Students for Success with Math and Science


Fifty-two area middle-school students are using the summer break to sharpen their math and science skills during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at the University of Virginia. The two-week, all-expenses-paid program, founded by astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., is one of 20 such camps being held on university campuses nationwide. The experience immerses campers in hands-on, team-based learning activities designed to reveal the science behind the latest technology, increase environmental awareness and explore how math impacts daily life. This year’s theme is "iCreate: STEM Design for a Sustainable Future."

On June 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, the University of Virginia will showcase its innovative camp curriculum with a unique “Space Day” competition, which challenges campers to create the most durable spacesuit swatch using household items. ExxonMobil engineers and University faculty will lend their science, technology, engineering and mathematics expertise to students. Superintendents from each school district are invited to attend and support their students. Local students creating and testing spacesuit samples alongside ExxonMobil engineers. Campers will use an “impact tester” that mimics the extreme elements in space to determine the winning design, which must be capable of withstanding space debris. The best visuals will be from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.

Carolyn Vallas, U.Va. assistant dean in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, director of the Center for Diversity in Engineering and camp director,  and Ricky Zhao, application engineer from ExxonMobil, who supports refineries in Europe, Canada and Japan, will be available to met with the media.

The Space Day competition will take place at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, 352 McCormick Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22904. Parking will be available at the stadium parking behind Engineering School complex off of Stadium Road. For more information, visit here.


Media Contact

Carolyn Vallas

Assistant Dean & Director Center for Diversity in Engineering