On five Saturdays between January and March, Villanova faculty, staff and students mentor these primarily low-income, underserved students from Philadelphia and the surrounding communities. Activities take place in Villanova classrooms, labs and outdoor sites. Students are provided with an in-depth engineering experience, as well as college preparation classes, team building opportunities, and discussions with industry mentors about careers in engineering. Graduate students prepare the curriculum, which is devised so that students who come back from year to year have a new experience each time. The curriculum builds from a basic introduction to engineering in the first year to individual and team projects in the second and third years. Graduate students and undergraduates teach under the guidance of faculty.
VESTED students and their families also receive mentoring focused on the college application and financing process, as well as guidance for succeeding in college and identifying a career path.
To date, more than 350 students have participated in VESTED—with impressive results. According to statistical analysis and surveys of parents and students, VESTED increases participants’ understanding of and appreciation for engineering, improves academic performance and school attendance, and increases college attendance.
The program is free to participants.