By Sherry DiBari

Two of the students participating in this year's Early Engineering Advantage Program (EEAP) had inside knowledge about life as an engineering student at Old Dominion University.

Incoming freshmen Christina Hayes and Desiree Ara-is both have sisters that are currently engineering majors at the Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

In 2001, Batten College established EEAP for students like Hayes and Ara-is and their sisters ­- female students entering the traditionally male-majority field of engineering.

Over the past two decades, alumnae have gone on to successful engineering careers at organizations like NASA, Amazon, PepsiCo, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Norfolk Southern, Dominion Energy and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The program is partially sponsored by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

The seven participants spent the week immersed in college life. They lived in the dorms, dined at Broderick Commons, registered for classes and attended orientation.

They spent much of the time engaged in team-building group projects and improving their presentation skills. Other activities included a classroom-finding expedition, a tour of General Dynamics NAASCO, and an engineering panel.

On Friday, the students were treated to a lesson on dining etiquette before they presented their group projects.

Jasmine Guevara, who plans to focus on modeling and simulation engineering, appreciated the group dynamics. "My favorite part was meeting all of the future engineers that really share my passion for engineering," she said.

The family ties will continue. Another EEAP participant, Aislinn Powell, is a triplet. She and her brother, Michael, will be both engineering majors at Batten College this fall.