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Melissa Ramales Inspired by Summer Engineering Camp at Purdue

Part of the high school experience, is preparing for life after graduation.  Students apply to colleges, training programs, search for jobs, search for scholarships and eventually, they make a decision. 

Melissa Ramales is a typical junior at Martha Layne Collins High School. While searching for possible scholarships and thinking about college course work, Melissa spoke with Ms. Susie Burkhardt, SCPS College and Career Readiness Coach, who directed her to examine summer residential programs at colleges to learn more about college offerings. “We called to ask about scholarships and she said her kids went to summer camps and it helped them to decide what to do for college.”

Because of that conversation, Melissa had the opportunity to study at Purdue University in their Summer Residential Program, PREFACE, for a week in July of 2019.

PREFACE is a residential summer workshop for students who are headed into their sophomore or junior year of high school. During this program, participants live on Purdue University's campus and learn more about the opportunities available at Purdue. Students learn about the wide variety of engineering careers and examine career choices as they relate to their own values, abilities, and goals. Students meet and work with students from around the country and work to design solutions to some of the world's most pertinent challenges, highlighting engineering majors at Purdue.” (

Melissa said, “It was a typical school day routine. We had classes and we learned about many engineering pathways.” Staying on campus helps students experience what college is like by staying in the dorms and eating in the school’s cafeteria.  

“The food is good and I enjoyed the dorm.”

One project was to create a dance mat that hooked to a computer, like Dance Dance Revolution.  One day they created a prosthetic limb and another day they created a water filter to create clean water.  With a focus on biomed and engineering, the students had a chance to examine the crossover between the two areas. “We had to make a potato clock and we learned that lemons have more voltage than potatoes.” 

Melissa said that traveling to a college to stay for a week was “kinda scary, because I was the only person from my school and from Kentucky.” With a roommate from Montana, Melissa says she made lots of friends and they made a group chat so that they can keep in touch.

When asked about her future plans after graduation from MLCHS, Melissa says that she is very family oriented and would like to stay in Kentucky. Although, she enjoyed learning about Purdue because they have an aerospace program and an excellent engineering program.

“I’m currently enrolled in a writing class and art history class for college credit.  I’ve taken English and public speaking, precalculus and chemistry to try to get ahead of college credits.”

I’d like to look for another college with summer programs that might interest me for comparison.”

Melissa says she likes science and math. “My dad is my inspiration.  He’s always been good at math. At home, we talk about what I’m learning at school. He didn’t have the opportunities I have and he wants the best for me.”