The Christian Brothers University (CBU) chapters of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) held a half-day workshop for potential future female engineers to experience the profession. The student-run workshop was the CBU students’ response to the community’s need for more engineering training.
Samantha Noland, Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy junior, coordinated the workshop to encourage girls to look at engineering as a possible career option. “When I was in middle school, science was presented as a dry, dull subject and engineering possibilities were not really included in my classes,” Noland noted. “I didn’t learn about engineering until I did a summer program at another local university and attended after school workshops provided by CBU.”
Because women are not largely represented in engineering, SWE and female ASCE members decided they needed to show younger generations that women can and are thriving in this field. “We provide workshops to give them hands on experience with engineering and at the same time help them become familiar with the college environment,” Mallory Bailey, ASCE President and Civil Engineering junior, remarked.
More than 20 middle school girls participated in the CBU student-run workshop. SWE President and Chemical Engineering senior, Hope Campbell, conducted a hands-on activity focused on bubble gum and lip gloss. Mini-lectures, such as one presented by Bailey on construction management, educated the students about basic chemical and civil engineering concepts.
To further enrich the workshop, Lydia K. Eppic, Structures Engineer for Federal Express, guest spoke. Her presence as a professional, female engineer provided the students with a role model of a woman currently in the field. “This workshop was a success because it brought together potential women who are very scarce in the engineering field,” noted Bailey, “and helped them realize that learning math, science, and engineering can be fun and can lead to a great future.”
Using a relaxed environment and fun to promote engineering to younger girls gives them the chance to test the waters in a field that is desperately seeking their diversity. “It is important to host engineering workshops for middle and high school girls because these type of workshops help to break down the stereotypical barriers that hinder girls from majoring in engineering,” Dr. Bethany King, SWE advisor, states. “This exposure helps girls realize that an engineering career is not only for boys.”
For information about CBU’s School of Engineering and pre-college engineering events, visit www.cbu.edu/engineering. ###