The Bridge Tech Develops the Next Generation of Engineers

Photo Credit: Amy Randall

When Machaka Young and Charles Johnson were making summer plans for their children, Xavier, Cameron and Madison, they were looking for a program where their kids could have fun AND learn. They ultimately found the perfect experience for all three kids at The Bridge Tech’s (TBT) Summer BootCamp. TBT is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop a pipeline of future college ready engineers and computer scientists.

“The TBT summer program was nothing like other programs,” shared Charles Johnson. “It offered engaging learning experiences for each of my kids in the fields of robotics, computer science and engineering. And the best part of the Summer BootCamp was that it inspired their interest in the sciences and opened their minds to career possibilities.”

Thirteen-year old son, Xavier, who is part of the Duke TIP Program, already knew he was interested in computer science and robotics. Spending the summer at TBT was a great fit for him. Xavier, who is generally very reserved, blossomed at TBT. He especially enjoyed writing code and developing computer games. And he enthusiastically volunteered to make a final presentation to a crowd of parents, instructors, community partners and fellow students at the closing ceremony. It is no surprise that he was recognized with the Middle School Star Student Award!

While Xavier’s sisters didn’t’ have a specific interest in engineering, both excelled and were inspired after a summer filled with science fun. The highlights for them were the Friday outings.  Six-year old, Madison was delighted to be able to go on the “big girl field trip” to Charleston, where they toured Boeing and the Clemson University Restoration Institute’s wind turbine testing facility. Nine year-old Cameron excitedly shared, “Boeing was awesome! We got to see the airplanes they build and how the company operates. We even got to play video games to see who could fly a plane the farthest.”

“Our kids learned so much this summer. TBT offered them great hands-on experiences and exposed them to real world science projects. And all of the TBT Instructors were highly qualified and great mentors. We are already looking forward to next summer, ” shared Machaka Young.

TBT was founded in 2002 with the goal of establishing a program dedicated to developing the strongest and best-prepared elementary, middle and high school students in the STEM field.  Students enrolled in TBT programs are taught from an advanced technical curriculum focusing on problem solving, experiments, computer development programs, video game designing, building data bases, managing projects, conducting robotic research and development, and creating mobile applications.

In addition to STEM education an important part of the TBT curriculum is its focus on developing life skills through leadership development, peer leadership, mentorship opportunities and coaching from industry leaders. TBT students learn to think critically, write coherently and speak effectively about their projects.

All trainings are conducted in a SAFE and secure learning environment. TBT’s dedicated teaching facility, located at 423 Vardry Street in Greenville, is an inspirational place. The halls are lined with college banners and the labs are filled with the state-of-the art tools necessary for training tomorrow’s engineers. Wind turbines, robots and computers abound.

Recognizing that their programming can benefit students throughout the school year, TBT has just launched its STEM Afterschool Program, which operates Monday through Friday from 2:45 through 6:00. And there are still a few slots available for aspiring engineers!

For more information about The Bridge Tech and its programs visit www.thebridgetech.org or call 864-355-8858.

Debbie Nelson

Debbie Nelson is the president and founder of DNA Creative Communications, a woman-owned public relations and inspirational marketing firm for nonprofit organizations. Under Debbie’s leadership, in 2010 DNA founded Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums, an annual training program for Greenville nonprofits in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greenville County, the United Way of Greenville County and the Hollingsworth Funds. To support other nonprofits across the state, she also manages education programs for the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organization. As an a advocate for the nonprofit community, each month Debbie shares nonprofit stories in her Shine the Light columns in the Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Monthly. In addition she teaches nonprofit marketing at Clemson University to inspire and develop future nonprofit leaders. Debbie is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Leadership South Carolina and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative. She currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, the United Way of Greenville County and the United Way Association of South Carolina.

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