Vigo County schools, Ivy Tech, announce new STEM summer camp

Apr. 19—A new STEM camp for middle school students will be offered for the first time in summer 2025, representatives of the Vigo County School Corp. and Ivy Tech Community College announced Friday.

The camp will introduce Vigo County middle school students to careers in automotive, electronics, robotics, computer numerical controlled technology, and welding, officials said.

It builds on the VCSC New and Emerging Automation Technology Experience, which students experience in seventh grade.

The initiative was announced during Friday's Vigo County Education Foundation Business and Bagels program at the Learning Lab, 55 S. Brown Ave.

It is made possible thanks to a collaborative funding initiative created jointly by the Education Foundation and Ivy Tech in 2022.

The summer camp would be for students in the summer between seventh and eighth grades, VCSC superintendent Chris Himsel said.

"We want to expand on [the NEAT program] so kids get a more robust experience and have a better understanding of what those opportunities are," he said.

The timing is important because during eighth grade, students "have to come up with their high school four-year plan and come up with their first high school schedule," he said.

Signing up for those first high school classes can set the tone for being able to complete career pathways or earn certifications.

"We want to make sure that if they want to earn a certification, if they want to pursue a particular career pathway, they have an opportunity to find out what that career pathway offers and what it entails before they have the chance of signing up for it," Himsel said.

The announcement demonstrates "the power of collaboration in driving positive change within our community," he stated.

Ivy Tech will host the summer camp on its Terre Haute campus, according to a college news release.

The program would provide students with an opportunity to experience a college setting and to spark their curiosity about their futures.

Planning will begin this summer, and the camp will be offered in summer of 2025. Classes will be led by Ivy Tech faculty and staff.

Lea Anne Crooks, Ivy Tech Terre Haute's chancellor, said the college and school district already collaborate in such areas as dual credit and dual enrollment.

"This is the first opportunity to come together with financial support to push something forward" through the collaborative funding initiative, she said

So far, VCEF and Ivy Tech have jointly raised about $40,000.

In March, both organizations pooled their contributions, and a committee reviewed and evaluated project requests, ultimately selecting the STEM summer camp experience for middle schoolers.

Often, students and families don't know all the high-earning career opportunities available in the community, Crooks said. "This is an opportunity for us to educate both students and families on what those career opportunities are."

To learn more or to support the initiative, contact VCEF's executive director, Jane Nichols at or the Ivy Tech Foundation's interim executive director of development, Alia Shuck at

Both the VCEF and Ivy Tech can accept donations to support projects focused on ensuring Vigo County students are prepared for and exposed to post-secondary education opportunities.

Also Friday, VCEF presented a Leadership Giving Award to Joink, which provides wireless Internet service.

The award recognizes the contributions made by significant, longtime supporters who believe in the value of a quality public education and have furthered the mission of the VCEF, which is to provide enriching educational opportunities to all VCSC students.

Those attending Business and Bagels also had the opportunity to tour the Learning Lab and the many programs housed there, including NEAT, J.A. (Junior Achievement) BizTown, VCSC Coordinated Health program, Adult Education, Purdue Extension, 4-H and more.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on X at @TribStarSue.