Outreach Program in Electrical Engineering: Pre-College for Engineering Systems (PCES)

Professor James Momoh, Fellow IEEE
Director Center for Energy Systems and Control
jmomoh@howard.edu

About the Program

The Howard University Pre-college for Engineering Systems, (PCES), which was previously called the Energy Expert Systems Institute, (EESI). PCES is an outreach program residential program for high school students selected from the USA and abroad that lasts for 6 weeks during the summer. The program was changed from EESI to PCES to accommodate STEM topics such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, and fundamentals in electrical engineering and power systems. NASA and the NSF sponsored the EESI program for 11 years. Due to the achievements of the previous program, the NSF recommended expanding the program to multiple locations in the US. However, due to increased cost and increased logistical requirements, the program had to be suspended for several years. But in 2012, the program was revived to combat the dwindling enrollment in several electrical engineering areas including power and energy systems, and to attract top underrepresented groups to STEM. The revised program now expands the scope of the EESI program and is recruiting more participants from other states such as Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Philadelphia, Seattle and South Carolina. This revised program (PCES) emphasizes the fundamentals of electrical engineering concepts, and sustainable energy with smart grid concepts. Several design projects using simulation tools for power system analysis for power system design are also introduced.

Other programs in the country teach electrical engineering, but cover few topics and do very few hands on projects in energy and power system areas. The approach taken in the PCES program at Howard is unique compared to existing pre-college programs in the country. Our program focuses not just exclusively on addressing the question “what is engineering?” but rather on “why choose engineering?” The program emphasizes the impact of green technology on careers in power systems. The Howard University (HU) PCES program accepts 25 to 30 11th and 12th grade students. PCES provides them with the foundation of electrical engineering through problem solving and power system projects. The declining enrollment in STEM, especially of underrepresented groups, can be addressed by the discipline and rigor of our program. Introducing this rigorous summer engineering program at Howard. Our program at Howard University uses a team based approach which includes Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), graduate students as mentors, and also the faculty working together to implement engineering projects that motivate the students creativity and innovation.

Furthermore, the program also recognized that some youths often lack the discipline it takes to sustain excellence while working in teams. This spirit of teamwork, which is often overlooked, is of great most importance to the students’ future education and professional development and overall success. The students are therefore, are taught ways to continuously problems engage in tackling problems even the complex ones, by brainstorming issues with their colleagues, and engaging in an interactive problem-solving environment. Furthermore, The program often engages in -group competitions to help students realize the importance of time management, creativity, innovation and teamwork. Our program, does a rigorously assessment and tracking of students’ performance during and after matriculation from the program not only to determine if the objectives of the program were being met and if but also what necessary corrective actions should be taken.

Student Testimonials

Below are some of the comments from some of the recent students:

"This summer, I had the privilege of participating in an engineering program at Howard University. I was excited by the prospect of living a college student’s life and getting a head start in my education as an engineer. This program taught me invaluable knowledge regarding the framework of electrical engineering. My mind was stretched thin with the mathematics, physics, and mechanics we were taught. Learning the practical applications of engineering was surprising as well. I never knew how much our world depended on engineers before this program. Participating has definitely reinforced my decision to pursue a career as an engineer for the betterment of our world. The labs and lectures were always insightful and our professors were extremely knowledgeable in their subject areas. I learned a lot from these lessons and I would not trade this knowledge for the world. I am happy with my overall experience at this program and would definitely do it again!""

"My experience at Howard this past summer is one that I will never forget. I learned more in the one month I spent there than I ever did in one whole school year. Professor Momoh served as a mentor for other students and myself in guiding us through the world of electrical engineering. He taught us so much about what it takes to be an engineer and how engineering connects everything we interact with on a daily basis. I am now a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park and I still can relate the lessons I learned from Howard to my everyday engineering classes. The knowledge I gained from participating in this program is priceless. I would highly recommend the program to other aspiring engineers who are serious about success as an engineer. The program is not easy, but neither is being an engineer. This is one of the many lessons learned from this summer program among the many that will last a lifetime."

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