USD Hosts Navy Junior ROTC Camp for Engineering & Technology

Underrepresented Students Learn about College Opportunities

Some 160 top high school students from around the country are attending a Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) academic camp emphasizing engineering and technology this week at the University of San Diego. 

USD professors are instructing the NJROTC cadets in engineering and computer programming classes and on Friday, July 17, they will demonstrate what they have learned in walk on water, catapult and robot competitions. 

Many of the cadets are from underrepresented groups. About 40 percent of the students are female and many are African-America or Latino. Many are visiting a university for the first time and would be the first in their families to attend college.

“We hope this fun, hands-on week of activities gives these promising students an opportunity to think about careers in engineering, mathematics or sciences that they may not have had before,” said Rick Olson, associate professor of engineering at USD.

Events on Friday include a walk on water competition where cadets will design and race self-propelled buoyancy “shoes” across the pool from 8 to 10 a.m. at USD Sports Center, located just 150 yards east of USD’s main campus.

From 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., cadets will launch catapults, using bungee cords and tennis balls, at the tennis courts in the Sports Center. And from 1:30 to 4 p.m., students will take part in a robotics competition on the west end of campus in the Sacred Heart Hall, located in back of USD’s Camino and Founders halls.

According to J.D. Smith, NJROTC director, the Navy is looking for ways to increase the participation of members of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

A camp for nearly 300 junior NROTC cadets was held earlier this summer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., he said. High-achieving high school juniors and seniors were selected for both camps by their naval instructors. 

“The NJROTC academic camp is an opportunity for some of our more talented NJROTC cadets to sample and experience undergraduate technical education,” Smith said. “The classes being taught by USD professors are a real plus. It is our hope that due to this camp, cadets will accept the challenge to strive for college and major in science, technology, engineering or math.”

On Saturday, July 18, SPAWAR Commander Rear Admiral Michael C. Bachmann will address the cadets at a graduation ceremony from 8 to 8:45 a.m. in USD’s Shiley Theatre.

U.S. News & World Report ranks USD’s engineering program 21st in the country, among programs whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s.

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Education, Law and Nursing and Health Sciences.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.