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Blackman Collegiate Academy students dig into MTSU for a day

Although Blackman High School freshman Avery Shields already plans to become a homicide detective some day, she quickly discovered MTSU’s Department of Geosciences has areas that can potentially help her in her career.

“I want to know how soil and rocks intertwine with being a homicide detective and investigations,” Shields, 14, said as she and nine Blackman Collegiate Academy classmates heard geosciences professors Henrique Momm and Jeremy Aber cover their specialty in a one-hour class session in Kirksey Old Main April 7.

Jeremy Aber, MTSU geosciences assistant professor, explains equipment used in aerial photography to students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy during a planned April 7 visit to campus. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Jeremy Aber, MTSU geosciences assistant professor, explains equipment used in aerial photography to students from the Blackman Collegiate Academy during a planned April 7 visit to campus. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Along with six teachers and three administrators, nearly 50 Blackman freshmen and sophomores visited various parts of the MTSU campus to help them become acquainted with university life.

As part of the special partnership, which organizers hope will give them a competitive edge as they prepare for college, juniors and seniors in the academy who meet eligibility standards can take up to six hours of university courses taught by MTSU instructors at Blackman at no cost. The credits will count on high school and college transcripts.

The students also spent time in the Depaartment of Aerospace’s air traffic control laboratory; they learned about engineering technology’s experimental vehicles and mechatronics engineering program; they heard about animal science careers and toured the milk processing plant.

In other colleges and departments, Blackman students learned about early childhood education and anthropology; they took campus tours starting in the Student Union and included a visit to the Honors College; some attended a one-hour University College workshop on helping to decide on a major; and they toured recording industry and the Center for Innovation in Media.

Shields, a freshman, said she “did not know it (geosciences) would be as diverse in so many topics” after entering the room not knowing what to expect.

Blackman Collegiate Academy students Nathan Jenkins, left, and Nate Farrington, right, receive instruction from MTSU’s Bill Stewart April 7 while acting as pseudo-pilots in the aerospace department’s air traffic control simulator. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Blackman Collegiate Academy students Nathan Jenkins, left, and Nate Farrington get help from MTSU’s Bill Stewart April 7 while acting as pseudo-pilots in the aerospace department’s air traffic control simulator.

“I want to know how it relates to other jobs,” she said.

Momm shared how “the demand is high for professionals in the field and our undergraduate and graduate students have been very successful (in landing jobs).”

Nine students visited the air traffic control lab, and experienced the pilot and controller sides and the 360-degree ATC simulator showing Memphis International Airport.

Sporting an MTSU-Blackman Collegiate Academy T-shirt, sophomore Amauri Burks, 16, shared that while “I’m interested in health sciences (as a career), I find the air traffic control lab interesting.”

Just before leaving for an Experimental Vehicles Program competition in Huntsville, Alabama, MTSU junior mechatronics engineering majorKelly Maynard, a 2013 Blackman graduate, told them to “never be afraid to try things outside their class.”

“Originally, I was a filmmaker,” she said. “I took an engineering class and I learned the physics behind the way things work.”

The lunar rover team member played a key role in creating the parts in the machine shop for a newly designed airless tire being used at the April 8-9 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)