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GEMS Workshop

The March 2023 event has been canceled.

Check back later in the year for the 2024 event date.


This one-day workshop provides an opportunity for eighth-grade students to explore interests in engineering, science and technology. Scheduled every spring, the workshop lets students interact with professional women from industry, as well as with professors and students from SDSU.

Workshop Goals

GEMS provides resources to educators and parents/guardians to achieve these goals for the workshop:

  • introducing eighth-grade students to engineering, math and science;
  • increasing student and parent knowledge in these areas;
  • providing an environment that facilitates learning and excitement;
  • inspiring eighth-grade students to continue to pursue the courses of study introduced during the workshop and
  • to increase the number of females with STEM degrees.
  • GEMS provides resources to educators and parents/guardians to achieve these goals.

Event Details

  • Date and Time:
  • Location: SDSU Crothers Engineering Hall, Brookings, South Dakota

Student Agenda for the day:

  • 9-9:30 a.m. - Registration and Refreshments, Crothers Engineering Hall 204
  • 9:30-10 a.m. - Welcome and opening session
  • 10-10:15 a.m. - Ice Breaker
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m. - Session One
  • 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Lunch with speaker
  • 12:30-2:15 p.m. - Session Two
  • 2:15-2:45 p.m. - Ice Cream Break
  • 2:45-4:30 p.m. - Session Three
  • 4:30-4:50 p.m. - Closing Ceremony


  • Camp fee is $25 per student if registered. Late camp fee is $35.
  • Teachers and guardians are free; please list ALL parents/guardians/teachers attending the workshop on the application form.

Online Application Form

Luncheon Speaker: For the 2022 academic year, the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Robotics Club has chosen to support the nation’s vision for space exploration by building a robot capable of traversing the hazardous lunar landscape and extracting the icy gravel beneath. The SDSU Robotics Club was founded in 2009 by a Senior Design group and began competing in the Fall of 2018. The SDSU Robotics Club has grown from five to over fifty active members to become the only truly multidisciplinary club within the College of Engineering, composed of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and more. In 2018, the team participated in the Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition and won first place in the collegiate division. Last year, the club secured the National Championship victory at the Land O’ Lakes Bot Shot Championship against six of the top engineering universities in the nation. The diversity of the team uniquely positions us to succeed in competitions. The differing backgrounds of our members make us stronger and give us multiple perspectives on the problems we solve. Involvement in the Robotics Club not only develops our technical capabilities but also hones our communications and interpersonal skills in an increasingly diverse engineering industry.

Planned Session Activities

Forensics - Behind the Scenes!

Forensic science is the study of objects that relate to a crime. Crimes occur multiple times per day across the world, and there are multiple steps before a suspect is determined to be “guilty." Where do statisticians fit into the process? In this activity, we will look at handwriting, fingerprint, and measurement evidence found at a crime scene, learn how to apply statistics to the interpretation of forensic evidence to determine whether or not a suspect was present at a crime scene and look at some of the tricks that people may use to cover their tracks! We will base this on data we will measure and collect during this activity. Fun for everyone!

Potential majors: Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Data Science

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Water quality impacts many parts of our everyday lives and we impact water quality with many of our actions. In this project, students will look at a watershed that has been impacted by negative water quality. Students will work in teams to measure different water quality parameters in water samples to determine what might be causing the pollution and what can be done to mitigate the issue. At the end of the day, students will be able to recommend changes to improve water quality based on the measurements taken during the project.

Potential majors: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Natural Resource Management


Moving from a science fiction novel to our workplace, robots are making a mark in history. Who will design and program the robots of the future, and what will they do for us? In this hands-on project, participants will program a LEGO-Mindstorm robot car to navigate a “treacherous” maze. This interactive project provides the great lesson of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

Potential majors: Math, Statistics, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Computational Science and Statistics

Teacher/Guardian Sessions

Preparing Your Student for College and STEM Career Opportunities

Dr. Suzette Burckhard, Assistant Dean of Engineering Academics, will present information on how students entering high school can better prepare themselves to compete for scholarships and demanding academic majors. Followed by Leah Brink, Human Resources Director at Daktronics, Inc., who will discuss STEM career opportunities. A panel discussion, comprised of SDSU students and industry professionals, will explore opportunities, expectations, rewards and skills associated with a STEM education and career. Panel members will discuss their academic and professional experiences in pursuing and managing a STEM career as well as how to make the most of the college experience. An interactive discussion with the audience to explore some of the common questions that students ask: topics such as choosing the best school, making the transition to college and a career.

Being an Engineer – Building an Earthquake Proof Cell Tower

In this session you will be given a chance to be an engineer. In this hands-on session, you and your team will be responsible for designing a Cell Towers. Cell Towers are designed by engineers to:

  • Enable communication high in the air to maximize signal reach
  • Withstand challenging natural forces such as wind and potential earthquakes

While we won’t be able to “test” your ability to maximize the signal reach of your Cell Tower, we will test your Cell Tower’s ability to withstand the forces of nature. So, once you have built your Cell Tower, with the materials provided, you will subject the Cell Tower you have built to a simulated earthquake.

Engineering Tour

With over 30 hands-on laboratories in our different majors, take a walking tour to visit a few select labs from various disciplines within the SDSU College of Engineering followed by a walking tour to the view the student sessions.


Sponsor logos: Banner engineering a better community, HRGreen, East River Electric, Daktronics, DGR Engineering, Sencore, Dulas Excavating Inc., 3M, and IBM