The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Isabel Rodriguez
For The Sentinel 

Goldendale students in Early Engineering program


While most middle school students enjoy the onset of summer break with anticipation of hot summer days, swimming pools, and no more schoolwork, some Goldendale youth had summer break plans that included a whole lot of schoolwork and more. These particular 8th graders were headed to the University of Washington’s Seattle campus to participate in a four-day early engineering camp offered through the University of Washington’s Early Engineering Institute program.

Funded through the Department of Education, the grant is a part of a rural initiative GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduates Program) that is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. This competitive merit eligibility grant targets first generation attendees enrolled in Algebra 1 with an avid interest in engineering. Candy McCredy, a retired Teacher and Assistant Site Coordinator for the Goldendale GEAR UP initiative, shares that the application process can be extremely competitive, and students are not aided so that their true desire to become an engineer comes out in the application process. “We want to expand their vision a little bit,” states McCredy. And expand their vision it will.

The engineering hopefuls were in Seattle from June 27 through July 1 for their UW GEAR UP four-day camp experience along with 12 chaperones who are STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) students. The chaperones helped the young engineering hopefuls get acclimated to The McCarty Innovation Learning Lab (The MILL) on the UW campus. They participated in campus tours and get the real experience of university life.

Priscilla Yoon, a UW Program Manager for K-12 students and the person running the camp for the Early Engineering Institute shares, “The students stay in a dormitory, eat in the cafeteria, they have counselors, they live like actual college students.” The students had access to cutting-edge professional equipment to work on their project, workshop space, lab space, and had hands-on participation making and testing new parts to improve toy sized gravity cars. Alejandro Contreras, one of the camp attendees, states, “It really showed what living on campus is like and how engineering and math comes together.” The students worked as a team with other students from around the 13 rural districts included in the grant. The students reviewed the math and science for the project their first day and were total hands-on the next day, anxious to put their engineering minds to work. When asked how the initial test run went Alejandro responded, “I think our car was the third fastest car, and we went right to work on improvements the next day.” The group of five students included fellow school mate Ethan Mell. “He came back so excited,” states his mother. “He told me, ‘I’m definitely ready for college life.’”

The grant cycle began in June and will have three more sessions throughout the summer. A total of 13 rural districts are served including the Klickitat Valley. For more information, contact, Candy McCredy at


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