East Mississippi Community College Board of Trustees member Greg Stewart, at right, who also works for Aurora Flight Sciences, shows students enrolled in EMCC’s Camp AMP how to prepare rockets for launch.

June 4, 2019

New Hope Middle School student Deja Nichols, 11, jammed the button down on a launch controller, firing the igniter that launched the model rocket she had assembled earlier that day.

Nichols and the 17 other members of East Mississippi Community College’s Camp AMP looked skyward as the model rocket streaked upward, reaching a height of about 250 feet before the streamer that slowed the rocket’s descent deployed.

“Wow,” Deja said. “I had no idea it would go that high.”

Nichols is a member of the first of four Camp AMP sessions this summer at EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus. Camp AMP introduces middle and high school students to manufacturing and engineering methods.    

On June 3, Greg Stewart, a Lowndes County representative on the EMCC Board of Trustees who works for Aurora Flight Sciences, helped the campers construct model rockets they later launched in a vacant field adjacent to the college.

“I have been building model rockets since I was in fifth grade and I have always liked helping people figure out how to do these type of things,” Stewart said.

Students enrolled in Camp AMP perform activities led by instructors in various programs, such as Automotive Technology, Diesel Mechanics, Information Systems Technology and Welding Technology.

In the Automotive Technology program, the campers learned to remove brake pads on an automobile and replace them. Students enrolled in Camp AMP on East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus learn to remove and install brake pads. Camp AMP exposes students to manufacturing at an early age.

“I really enjoy the fact that there is so much hands-on learning in the camp,” Armstrong Middle School student Chase Dodd, 13, said. “I like that a lot more than just sitting there and watching somebody else explain something to me.”

The campers are also treated to tours of area manufacturing camps. This year’s Camp AMP sessions include tours of Aurora Flight Sciences, Clark Beverage Group and PACCAR Engine Company.

“It was pretty interesting to see how they packaged things and how robots can actually do a lot of the tasks,” Cornelius Harmon, 13, said Tuesday after a tour of Clark Beverage Group.

The whole point of Camp AMP is to expose children to manufacturing at an early age, EMCC Workforce and Community Services Information Specialist Tenise Smith said.

“They may already have a career in mind but after learning more about the programs they may say, ‘Hey, I didn’t even know about this and it is something I can consider as a possible career,’” Smith said.

Camp AMP includes games designed to serve as team building exercises, with area businesses such as Graham Roofing and McCrary-West Construction participating. There is a mini local area network party that includes gaming, drone operation and virtual and augmented reality systems. The camp wraps up with an awards presentation.

Each Camp AMP session runs Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes a light breakfast, a snack and lunch. At the end of the week, the campers are given a T-shirt.

“There are a lot of activities during Camp AMP for the low, low price of $25,” EMCC Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Division Navigator Greta Miller said.

Scholarships are available to qualified students whose parents cannot afford the registration fee, Miller said.

There are spots available in the Camp AMP sessions that run from June 10-13 (9th and 10th grades) and June 17-20 (6th through 8th grades). While preference is given to students in grades 6-10, exceptions are made if space is available.

Deja said she was skeptical about Camp AMP when her mother signed her up.

“I didn’t think it would be fun but I found out it really is once I got here,” Deja said. “This is awesome.”

For more information, or to reserve a spot at one of the Camp AMP sessions, contact Tenise Smith by email at tsmith@eastms.edu or by phone at 662.243.1764.