Engineering Day brings application of tech to area high school students

Building relationships with potential students was a big part of the annual Clayton A. Wiley Engineer High School Day held recently by the Department of Engineering Technology at Grambling State University (GSU). Department Head Dr. Edwin Thomas felt the event was a success and hopes it will go a long way toward strengthening the bridge between regional high schools and the university’s engineering program.
A total of 106 students from Arcadia High School, Carroll High School in Monroe, Gibsland-Coleman High School, Lincoln Preparatory School, and Simsboro High School, spent much of the day on GSU’s campus, participating in competitions involving Bridge Building, Drone Flying Competition, Computers, Electrical Circuits and Mechanical Puzzles.

“The annual Clayton A. Wiley Engineer’s Week High Day has always been a very important and productive event for the students visiting from the area high schools,” Thomas said.

“It is a very valuable recruiting and outreach program for the department and other academic STEM areas on campus. Several students who have participated in the competition activities and later became students at the university.”

The students attending the Clayton A. Wiley High School Day also heard from university officials to learn more about the institution, spending time in short informational seminars with members of the Office of Admissions and Recruitment as well as the Center for Mathematical Achievement in Science and Technology (CMAST).


Department of Engineering Technology faculty member John Frazier, who oversaw the Drone Flying competition, said that getting the high school students on campus to see what Grambling State has to offer them is an important part of the recruiting process.

“When you can get a young student on campus and have them see things like the kinds of different drones we build and give them a chance to actually fly the small drones we use in the competition — those things are the kinds of things that can really make an impact on them,” Frazier said.

“They also get to see what campus is like — what the classrooms are like and all of that — those are the kinds of things that can make a lasting impression on them. And the students all seemed to be attentive and responsive to what we were trying to tell them about their futures and how GSU can play an important role in those futures.”

Math and engineering teacher Felicia Dunbar brought 24 students from Simsboro High School and also helped Frazier run the Drone Flying competition.

“I actually trained in a drone program when I was taking some engineering classes,” Dunbar said. “So, I took those and even got certified in drone flying even though that’s expired now. I need to get recertified.”

“But we had a great drone team at Simsboro before COVID hit. They were amazing drone pilots, but they never got to test because of the virus. We have a few students competing today, but they don’t have the experience those pre-COVID students did, but I’m hoping just to see all the drones here at GSU and be able to fly one in the competition will help fuel their fire in the engineering field.”

Dunbar said the competitions are a great way that GSU reaches out to high school students, and she has seen firsthand the effect High School Day can have.

“It’s all a great and important thing, but it’s these competitions that are my favorite part of High School Day. The students do a lot — they fly drones, they get to build bridges every year, and maybe more important, they get to step foot on an actual college campus.”

“Some of these students have never even thought about going to college. So when they get to come in and see the university, and learn how they can get money to go to college — it’s super-important, and I’m just thankful to Grambling State and the College of Engineering Technology for holding these kinds of events that could end up meaning so much to the futures of some if not many of the students here today.”