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Meet Sameer Kapur and Tyler Smithline of Future Engineers Camp in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sameer Kapur and Tyler Smithline.

Sameer and Tyler, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As young kids, we loved attending engaging and hands on summer camps. Spending all day building robots or coding apps while being surrounded with friends was our definition of a great time. We realized that when done right, summer camps had the potential to be inspirational. However, most of these camps are incredibly expensive. Knowing that there was room for innovation in the STEM summer camp market, we set out to find a way to provide a great experience for a low price.

We spent months refining out curriculum and developing a marketing strategy. We decided we were going to teach LEGO robotics, as it had the potential to be both incredibly fun and educational. We also made sure to include all of the projects that would make engineering seem fun: LEGO arthropods, robotic arms, battlebots, and more.

After spending week after week promoting our camp at local events, we got a several sign-ups. In the summer of 2014, we launched the first session in one of our garages with just 15 students. Although it was a small class size, we had the opportunity to see firsthand how excited our campers were to build robots, and we were determined to expand to as many kids as possible.

Since then, we’ve grown significantly each year, constantly working on finding new ways to make our camp more memorable. During our most recent year, we even expanded to computer science classes like Java, web development, and iOS app development in addition to our robotics class. In order to handle our increasing amount of students, we hired many fellow high schoolers to help teach and share their knowledge on a subject that’s important to them. As our popularity rises, Future Engineers Camp continues to become more and more of a staple in the community for both kids and high schoolers alike, providing kids with a great learning experience while helping high schoolers gain valuable experience working with students. We have now inspired close to 200 students and continue to gain students with our classes across California.

Has it been a smooth road?
While making camp fun and engaging for students has always come naturally to us, we’ve had to overcome lots of obstacles due to being high schoolers. For example, most companies are apprehensive about lending out space for us to host our camp. Due to this, we have to spend countless hours scouting potential locations each year. As our number of students increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to find suitable locations, much less ones with owners that are willing to trust high school students. After four years of switching locations, we finally found a chain of enrichment centers that will be bringing our classes to several locations around California. Having to worry about school and the business at the same time has definitely been a challenge at times, but the experience has taught us to be more efficient with our time.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Future Engineers Camp story. Tell us more about the business.
Unlike traditional STEM camps, Future Engineers Camp does something differently: all our teachers are students themselves. Our team is 100% student run and we are able to connect with our students better because the age gap is much smaller than any other summer camp. Our curriculum is based on real world concepts and content that students can apply beyond the classroom. Our teachers maintain a student-centered approach to learning. That’s why we keep a 1:3 teacher to student ratio. We have noticed that there is a lack of girls in STEM and we are proud to run a women in STEM initiative (WiSTEM). Since the start of the WiStem program, we have achieved close to a 50/50 girls/guy ratio in several of our engineering classes.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
As more parents are turning to online courses for their students to learn new technologies, we want to be at the forefront of the online education revolution. We have already started brainstorming ways to take our curriculum global via an online platform or app. Many parents and students are interested in seeing this happen and we are up for the challenge. In the years to come, new technologies will arise and learning engineering will be more accessible than ever, and we are exciting for all yet to come.

Pricing:

  • $329 / week-long class (m-f, 9am-3:00pm)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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