Plugging in

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 19:00
ANSEP gives students a jump on college
Eagle River’s Andre White assembles a computer as part of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program’s computer building program on June 25 on the campus of the University of Alaska-Anchorage. White plans to study engineering in college at UAF in the fall.

Andre White couldn’t wait to get to college. So after graduating Eagle River High School this spring, the 18-year-old immediately moved into the dorms at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

“It’s kind of like a college preview,” said White, who is participating in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) Summer Bridge program, which is designed to give incoming college freshmen a sneak preview of campus life.

“Making the transition to college can be a big step,” said ANSEP chief operations officer Mike Bourdukofsky.

Bourdukofsky explained that the Summer Bridge program is just one of several programs ANSEP runs out of its on-campus facilities. Founded in 1995, ANSEP was designed to put Alaskan students on an accelerated path toward careers in math, science and engineering careers.

“Ultimately the goal is to help Alaska Native or rural Alaska students get engaged in science and engineering,” Bourdukofsky said of the program, which is open to Native and non-Natives alike.

Other ANSEP program include the Acceleration Academy, which offers college-level courses and credits; a Middle School Academy for younger students; and an ongoing computer building program that allows students to build and keep their own computers.

Students who are engaged in the programs can expect a much more focused academic experience than they might get at the high school level, Bourdukofsky said.

“It is very rigorous,” he said.

Both White and fellow Eagle River resident Solomon Kline participated in a recent three-day ANSEP computer build. Kline, who will be a senior at Anchorage Christian Schools in the fall, is also participating in the Acceleration Academy. Although he plans to be a surgeon, Kline said he is keeping his options open.

“I think I want to dabble in engineering so I have a few more options,” he said.

Getting to build his own computer from scratch was a fun way to learn about machines, he said.

“I learned a lot about how the computer works, how the parts interact with each other,” he said.

ANSEP regional director Josephine Edwards-Vollertson said students get to keep the machines they build if they complete chemistry, physics and trigonometry while in high school.

“We really want to encourage students to take higher level math and science classes,” she said.

Typically the computer build is one of the first things students experience through ANSEP. But it’s hopefully not the last, Edwards-Vollerston said. Instead, she said the idea of having several different programs is to create a “pipeline” of students who are engaged in ANSEP activities throughout their high school years.

“We set them on a track to hopefully come back every summer,” she said.

After spending much of his summer on the campus of UAA, White said he believes he’s much more prepared to begin college at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in the fall. White said he’s planning a rigorous course of study in order to become a petroleum engineer, and said the instruction he’s gotten through the Summer Bridge program has helped his confidence.

“I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into,” he said.

Edwards-Vollertson said that’s exactly why ANSEP exists — to expose students to rigorous courses of study in order to turn out future scientists, doctors and engineers.

“I like to think of it as we’re investing in their future,” she said.

For more information on ANSEP, visit


Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected].

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