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No Man's Land: MIT's Engineering Design Competition for minority high school seniors

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Table-top robots built by minority high school seniors will battle it out to reach No Man's Land in an engineering design contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, July 9 from 2-4:30 p.m. in Rm 34-101.

This year's engineering design contest -- part of the Minority Introduction to Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science summer program (MITE2S) at MIT -- is the culmination of a three-week course modeled after MIT's renowned 2.007 Intro to Design competition.

The 60 high school seniors are given a box of components including electric motors, wheels, springs, gear sets and pieces of wood, metal and plastic; each team has three weeks to design and build a remote-controlled device for the July 9 contest. No Man's Land refers to a region on the competition table from which teams must collect one size ball and dump another while avoiding other robots and obstacles including platforms, ramps, a bridge and a tunnel.

The 29 young men and 31 young women -- who hail from 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico -- will live at MIT for six weeks this summer as participants in the intensive academic MITE2S program.

The students' schedule includes 10 hours daily of classes, tutoring and study time.

In addition to the engineering design contest, the students will compete in an entrepreneurial competition, Enterprise Fair, to show off their business plans for high-tech products -- complete with marketing schemes, financial projects and cash flow worksheets. Enterprise Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, 5:30-7:30pm in the lobby of Building E51 (Sloan School). Reporters are invited to cover the event.

This is MITE2S ' 25th year of introducing underrepresented minority students to engineering and science at the university level. The program competes with about 400 other summer academic programs in the United States. Some 14 of these are designed specifically for minorities or other selected groups, and a mere eight of those concentrate on engineering, mostly for a week's duration.

This year, MITE2S received 624 applications for the 60 spots. All the students are admitted on full scholarship; food, housing and tuition are provided.

According to Karl Reid, executive director of special programs for the School of Engineering, nearly 74 percent of MITE2S participants go on to apply for admission to MIT. Of those, about 93 percent are accepted and 52 percent actually enroll. Twenty-nine of the 1998 MITE2S participants plan to enroll as MIT freshman next fall.

"All of them go to the best schools in the country, and 80 to 90 percent end up going into engineering and science," said Mr. Reid.

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