The Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University has been continually evolving their youth programs over the past couple decades. Venture and Learning Enrichment Advancement Program (LEAP) are their non-profit programs that aim to motivate and inspire youth to explore science and engineering with innovative, hands on programming though summer camps, curriculum based school workshops and other outreach initiatives. Both programs also try to break traditional stereotypes by ensuring there are both female and male mentors available to students.
Venture Camps are geared towards elementary aged students (grades 1-8) and started with offering camps in science & engineering and now also offer computer and
technology programs. The camps reach over 1200 students paired with other initiatives that reach over 7400 youth; this program definitely has an impact on students in the area. LEAP is meant to inspire high school students to follow mathematics and science and showcase potential career paths that students may have not otherwise known about. They offer programs in a wide range of scientific fields including engineering physics, engineering software, robotics, mechanics, and environmental design along with bioengineering.
McMaster has recently been awarded a grant by NSERC of $41 000 over three years which will enable both Venture and LEAP programs to reach more students who may otherwise have not had the opportunity to partake in such camps and learning experiences. The funding is part of NSERC’s PromoScience grant and the funding will support bursaries for students to attend the camps, outreach programs targeting potential first-generation university students, and traveling workshops that will bring science and engineering activities to students.