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Lyles College of Engineering

Nicholas Amely assisitng students working on a computer

Engineering camp sparks University High graduate’s career path

Nicholas Amely always wanted to be an engineer, but it wasn’t until he attended an Explore Engineering summer camp at Fresno State during his freshman year of high school that he knew he was on the right path.

Over the course of four weeks, elementary, middle school and high school students participate in hands-on activities combined with academic lectures that cover various topics such as engineering, construction management and architectural studies.

“The electrical portion of camp just really sparked my interest,” Amely said. “We were building a robot, and once I'm able to get things like that to work, I just build off of it and keep going.”

Amely attended the camp a second time before graduating from University High School this past spring. Beginning this fall, he will officially be an electrical engineering student in the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State.

Amely’s summer would not have been complete without serving as a student facilitator for this year’s Explore Engineering camp.

“The camps were so helpful for me, and I wanted to give back by helping prospective engineers like myself have a great experience, Amely said. “I think it really helps to be taught by someone who has a past experience like mine, and I think students are more likely to understand an activity with a fellow student explaining it to them.”

Engineering camps resumed in person this year after going virtual for the summers of 2020 and 2021. The activities, previously held on Zoom, focused on cybersecurity and Python programming.

“This year, we were finally able to do some really fun activities and it was nice to showcase all the disciplines within the college,” said Hernan Maldonado, director of the Lyles College Pathways Student Services.

Maldonado has organized the college’s engineering camps every year since they launched in 2010. His goal always remains the same — get students interested in engineering careers. 

“Seeing students like Nicholas and many others who come back for their undergraduate studies in engineering means that our camps are working,” Maldonado said.

Explore Engineering camps are for K-12 students who are looking for fun and engaging summer activities. The camp schedule is typically announced on the college’s website and social media each April, and parents can register their children online.

Amely said he enjoyed the teamwork during camp, and that teamwork is an essential skill to the field. 

As an incoming member of the Lyles College’s Honors Program, Amely is excited to further his research on drones, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“There are so many great professors in the department and they allowed me to reach out to them after camp which was very helpful because that's exactly how I first got into research,” Amely said .

Amely’s most recent project connects a computer to a drone to make it a smart drone that is able to fly on its own. While the drone is in the air, it uses its camera along with artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect anything he wants it to. 

“I think electrical energy is the future over other sorts of fuel sources and one of my main goals is to help the world,” Amely said, “to better it somehow, and I think electrical engineering is the best way to do that.”