April 20, 2024

Arkansas Delta Contributor – Aug. 8, 2022 – The Alex Foundation convened the second week of its award-winning annual architecture + design summer camp in Arkansas City on July 18-22 for rising 7th-grade boys.  Using historic architecture as a backdrop for teaching and learning, students explored the cultural assets of city buildings.

The students’ instructor for the first two days of their summer camp was Colby Mitchell of Memphis, who began the first day of summer camp with a presentation on the history of architecture and architects’ contributions to the built environment. 

On the students’ second day of summer camp, Mitchell guided the participants on a walking tour of the John H. Johnson Museum, named in honor of the founder, chairman and publisher of the iconic Ebony and Jet Magazines, and Xenophon Overton Pindall Law Office, named for the once acting governor of Arkansas. Mitchell used the tour to demonstrate 2D perspective drawing to the students. He introduced structural basics and tasked the students with creating their own individualized structure with marshmallows and toothpicks. Mitchell also introduced how architects use technology including drones in designing.

A native of Marianna in Lee County, Mitchell is a 2005 graduate of Lee Senior High School. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (2011) and Master of Architecture (2013) degree from the University of Memphis. He is a project manager for Self + Tucker Architects, Memphis’s largest black-owned architectural firm.  Mitchell has coordinated and managed several multi-million-dollar projects and has experience with a broad range of project types. He is also an entrepreneur with his own graphic design business, Detail 7.

The students’ third day of summer camp was a lesson in drone aviation at the Mississippi River McCallie Beebe Scenic Overlook.  Sean Clark, a certified unmanned aerial system (UAS) pilot with the Little Rock-based WS501 was the students’ drone instructor.  Clark gave the students hands-on basic training in aviation, airway traffic control, 2D/3D mapping, search and rescue, land surveying, and airspace classifications concepts, including Class E air-space flights.  Students performed drone flights at the Overlook.

Students engaged in two days of tinkering as they imagined, explored and created 3D models using Autodesk’s TinkerCAD, a 3D digital design web app software. Their fourth day of camp was a lesson in structural designing with Tanesa Kassa of Little Rock.

Kassa, previously worked for Woods Caradine Architects, Cromwell Architects and Engineers and the School of Drafting at ITT Technical Institute.  She currently works for Arkansas Department of Transportation.

The students were visited for lunch on Wednesday by Arkansas State Trooper Mitch Grant who encouraged them to be successful.  They also were visited on Friday by Mrs. Laurie Black Hamilton, a supporter.

The last day of camp was interior decorating with Jane Moss of Dumas, and a future city design challenge with the Alex Foundation.  Michelle Robinson and Jesse Robinson judged the future city design challenge. First place winner Andre Brooks received a $75 gift card for his greenhouse design; second place winner Aiden Bryan received a $50 gift card for his 24-hour doghouse facility design for hospital patients; and third place winner Tristen Hill received a $25 gift card for his Cracker Barrel Restaurant design. The students’ displayed all of their designs for their families on the last day of summer camp.  On the last day also, all participants received a certificate of completion, an Alex Foundation t-shirt and rewards.

All participants received a full scholarship, which included supplies and materials, transportation to and from summer camp, snacks and meals.  Their scholarships were made possible with support from generous donors and sponsors. 

The architecture + design summer camp co-ed participants were Aiden Bryan of Lake Village, and Andre Brooks, Nakyra Benton, Kyndel Williams and Tristan Hill of McGehee. Now in its 10th year, the first week of the free summer camp offered eight rising 7th grade girls from Dermott, Dumas and McGehee a chance to experience immersive learning and gain skills in multiple professions. Through hands-on learning, students used various tools, technologies and materials to innovate, create, and engineer. See story here.

Halley, Ark.-based Alex Foundation’s mission is to engage students to consider careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in architecture and design through mentoring, strengthening students’ capacity, and supporting their educational attainment. It was established in honor of Alex Courtney, who majored in architecture before his untimely passing.  For more information or to donate, visit www.alex-foundation.org.


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