Accelerate Summer Experiences

COVID-19: With the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront of our decision making, this year’s Virtual program summer experiences have been cancelled.


In the summer preceding each of their years in the Accelerate program, students are required to attend a week-long Summer Experience.  The aim of Summer Experiences is to bring together all Accelerate students from across the state, to introduce them to engineering challenges and fields of study, and to develop their critical-thinking skills and teamwork abilities.  At the end of each Summer Experience, students provide presentations related to the work they have completed over the preceding week.  These presentations are open to the public and are attended by mentors, faculty, and administrators associated with the Summer Experiences.


Base Camp (Rising 10th-Graders)

All rising 10th-graders attend a week-long base camp in Hartsville, SC.  Usually scheduled during one of the last two weeks of June, base camp is held either on GSSM’s campus or on the neighboring campus of Coker College.  For the duration of the camp, students reside in GSSM or Coker dormitories.

Prior to arriving at base camp, all students receive a list of activities that will take place over the course of the week.  After ranking their preferences, students are assigned to a group (no more than 15 students) in which they work during the camp.  Within each of these larger groups, students work in smaller groups (usually three or four students) to complete various projects.

All projects for the base camp are created, developed, planned, and led by Accelerate faculty.

In previous years, base camp activities have included the following:

  • Designing and building Lego robots to navigate obstacle courses
  • Designing and building bottle rockets
  • Designing and programming Arduino Unos
  • Programming and piloting drones
  • Designing, building, and testing popsicle-stick or toothpick bridges
  • Designing, building, and testing paper roller coasters
  • Designing and building pinhole cameras that take actual pictures
  • Learning the fundamentals of mathematical modeling (i.e., using mathematical models to solve real-world problems)
  • Learning the fundamentals of number systems, number base conversion, the sum of binary numbers, logic gates, and Boolean algebra and applying these fundamentals to a variety of digital electronics circuits (e.g., power-, clock-, and input/output-circuits)

University of South Carolina Camp (rising 11th-graders)

All rising 11th-graders attend a week-long camp at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, SC.  Usually scheduled during one of the first two weeks of July, the USC camp is designed and led by USC faculty and undergraduate and graduate students.  For the duration of the camp, Accelerate students reside in USC dormitories.

Over the course of the camp week, students work in small groups (usually three or four students) to design and build autonomous vehicles that are controlled and navigated by way of a magnetic field.  Learning the fundamentals of electromagnetics and circuitry prior to and during the building process, students refine their driverless vehicles in preparation for an end-of-the-week race.

Clemson University Camp (rising 12th-graders)

All rising 12th-graders attend a week-long camp at Clemson University in Clemson, SC.  Usually scheduled during the second or third week of June, the Clemson camp is designed and led by Clemson faculty and graduate students.  For the duration of the camp, students reside in Clemson dormitories.

Over the course of the camp week, students are usually divided into small groups (three or four students), although some students may choose to work individually or in pairs.  Prior to the camp, students receive a list of areas of research and experimentation and are asked to rank their preferences.  Upon arriving at Clemson, they learn their groups and remain in them for the entirety of the week.

In past years, students have participated in the following activities:

  • Chemical Engineering: Analyzing and implementing membranes for water filtration
  • Mechanical Engineering: Drawing, designing, and implementing mechanical parts for a variety of engineering applications
  • Civil Engineering: Using custom software to design virtual roadways that replace existing roads or improve current traffic patterns
  • Materials Science: Working alongside graduate students in the lab to develop materials that have enhanced durability and design applications for a variety of engineering projects
  • Environmental Engineering: Studying the environmental impact of various building materials and developing compost samples for use on Clemson farms