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Shelby County Students Reap Benefits from Rose-Hulman Partnership

September 22, 2015

Brayden Scarlett

Diving In: Shelbyville’s Brayden Scarlett discovered a new interest in mechanical engineering through the Operation Catapult program.

The hand-made waterwheel splashed in the flowing current, but it wasn’t turning quite as efficiently as Brayden Scarlett, its designer, had expected. However, the few volts of electricity generated by the wheel ignited his interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and a new interest in mechanical engineering.

“Now, I know I like to build stuff,” Scarlett says smiling.

Scarlett, a senior at Shelbyville High School, was one of more than 300 students from throughout the country participating in Rose-Hulman’s Operation Catapult program this summer. The two-and-a-half week program provided valuable hands-on STEM experiences, while giving students a preview about college.

Shelbyville classmates Logan Perry and Daniel Young also attended Operation Catapult this summer through the Innovative Model: Positioning Communities for Transformation (IMPaCT 2016) program, which has forged a partnership between Shelbyville, Shelby County, and Rose-Hulman.

Before attending Operation Catapult, Perry was inclined toward studying mechanical engineering in college, but discovered a passion for computer programming after helping design a video game as part of a group project. With that experience, he now thinks he could design, build, and program a robot on his own.

“I just enjoyed the whole [Operation Catapult] experience,” Perry says.

Young was part of another group that also designed a video game. Like the others, he said the summer program introduced new possibilities in STEM career fields.

“I didn’t have any prior experience in programming,” Young says. “I learned completely new things.”

Daniel Young

New Frontiers: Shelbyville High School senior Daniel Young gained new computer programming experience thanks to the IMPaCT partnership between Shelbyville, Shelby County, and Rose-Hulman.

Launched in 2014, Rose-Hulman’s IMPaCT partnership started when Shelbyville and Shelby County officials sought to stimulate economic development by creating home-grown entrepreneurial talent, educate future innovators, and attract manufacturing- and technology-based businesses. The partnership covers Operation Catapult program costs for Shelby County students, and fosters closer links between the community and Rose-Hulman.

"This partnership allows our youth to be exposed to the educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the nation's number one engineering school," states Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun.

Operation Catapult, which this summer completed its 49th year, is one of many successful programs provided by Rose-Hulman designed to generate STEM interest in young people.

“I enjoyed it immensely,” Scarlett says, echoing similar comments from his fellow Shelby County classmates. They enjoyed living on the Rose-Hulman campus, listening to inspiring Rose-Hulman faculty lectures on STEM-related projects, and making new friends who shared similar interests.

“It was great,” Perry says. “There was always something to talk about with the person sitting next to you.”