VU’s Xmester and Techmester give high schoolers a glimpse of college life

VU’s Xmester and Techmester give high schoolers a glimpse of college life

Students in Entrepreneurship Unlocked posing for a photo on the stairs of the Wathen Business Building.

June 21, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. – Build and program robots, write songs about societal issues, design and print 3D objects, create self-portrait collages, and conduct "autopsies" on fetal pigs. These are a few exciting projects that high school students from throughout Indiana participated in while making Vincennes University their home from June 13-16.

VU welcomed nearly 350 bright young minds to the Vincennes Campus for its annual Xmester and Techmester residential pre-college programs. Opportunities to engage in hands-on experiences and out-of-the-box thinking surrounded students, and they even earned college credit.

Students came from 18 schools, including Ben Davis University in Indianapolis, Prosser Career Education Center in New Albany, Whitewater Career Center in Connersville, Heartland Career Center in Wabash, and East Allen University in Fort Wayne. Xmester and Techmester offered nearly 20 classes, including urban farming, advanced manufacturing, art, cosmetology, culinary, music, writing, health care, information technology, graphic design, surveying, and automotive technology.

High school students operate the champ bot robots they built and programmed.
In the Center for Applied Robotics and Automation, students operate champ bot robots after building and programming them

What’s The Life of a VU Student Like?

During their stay, students lived the life of a VU Trailblazer. They took classes, ate in Tecumseh Dining Center, relaxed in Jefferson Student Union, played games on the intramural fields, and slept in campus residence halls. They did everything a college student would.

"It felt more real than just visiting," said Perry Meridian High School Early College student Jacob Wineinger of Indianapolis.

More students have access to experiences they otherwise would not have had, thanks to Xmester and Techmester, according to Dr. Kevin Mower, an Assistant Dean of Instruction at VU Early Colleges at Center Grove, Perry Meridian, and New Palestine.

"Xmester and Techmester are extraordinary opportunities for rising seniors to see their futures," Mowrer said. "They explore career paths and college majors through unique learning experiences while gaining independence and establishing skills for navigating college life successfully. They also have fun while doing it."

Graphic Design students print shirts with designs created by students
In the Shircliff Humanities Center, students print designs they created on t-shirts

Creating Access and Opportunity

XMester and Techmester are free to students courtesy of a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Participating students are all enrolled in VU's Early College, a program that allows students to get a jump start on their college education while still attending high school. Early College students earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree simultaneously. VU is the statewide leader in Early College partnerships.

Xmester and Techmester culminated with a project fair in the Student Recreation Center. Students showcased their projects to their fellow students and VU faculty and staff.

Lawrence Central High School student Kiarah Phillips demonstrated how to perform CPR. The Indianapolis resident dreams of attending medical school and becoming a cardiologist. She especially enjoyed the team-building games that were a part of the health care class. 

"I learned medical terminology, which was good," she said. "I really liked the hands-on stuff. The hands-on activities make everything fun."

Students in Law Enforcement Technology class dissect fetal piglets
In the Homeland Security and Public Safety Building, students dissect fetal pigs

Bringing Together Learning and Fun

After four days full of activity, Tamaria Trotter of Indianapolis said she truly felt like a college student.

"I don't want to leave," said the Ben Davis University student. "I enjoyed my time here, especially with the comedian and the party."

Xmester and Techmester students are positively immersed in all areas of life on a college campus. A comedy show, dance, recreational activities, and other events make for lively entertainment. They also learn about VU's support and resources, like student organizations, a counseling center, and career services. Students also spent time exploring the 200-plus-acre campus.

"The facilities were really nice," Julianna LeJeune of Indianapolis said. "I saw the (Wathen) Business Building and the E-Sports lab, which is awesome. The Forensics Lab in the Homeland Security Building is really cool and there is a whole crime scene and everything."

LeJeune has career aspirations of being a crime scene investigator. The Ben Davis University student enjoyed the law enforcement technology class, where students learned to recognize and document the essential facts of death scene investigation.

"You're really getting that hands-on experience," LeJeune said. "You're looking at a crime scene. You're analyzing it. You're asking questions. It's like you are doing the job. It doesn't feel like school. It feels fun."  

To learn more about VU Early College, Xmester, and Techmester, visit

See a photo gallery of Xmester and Techmester

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