Girls gets their hands in en­gi­neer­ing

Sum­mer pro­gram en­cour­ages campers to ex­plore STEM

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

Po­ten­tial fu­ture fe­male en­gi­neers last week had a chance to par­tic­i­pate in hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties in a wide range of en­gi­neer­ing dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing com­puter de­sign for 3D print­ing and build­ing ob­jects within a team set­ting.

A dozen fe­male stu­dents in­ter­ested in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics took part in the Col­lege of Southern Mary­land’s En­gi­neer Like A Girl sum­mer pro­gram, held July 24 through July 28.

As she walked around the room the last day of camp, CSM aca­demic ad­viser Jehnell Link­ins called the girls “fu­ture fe­male en­gi­neers” and en­cour­aged them to talk with their team­mates about the gum­ball-like de­vice they were mak­ing out of plastic two-liter soda bot­tles, straws and other craft­ing sup­plies.

At the pro­gram girls get the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage in en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and “learn what they do,” Link­ins said. “If we can ex­pose and in­spire them … at an early age,” girls may not be so in­tim­i­dated by STEM top­ics or dis­like math, she said.

Us­ing com­puter-aided de­sign, campers also cre­ated fidget spin­ners and other ob­jects with a 3D printer, Link­ins said.

The goal of the pro­gram is to “stomp out neg­a­tive stereo­types com­monly associated with women’s abil­ity to pur­sue ca­reers in math- and sci­ence-re­lated fields,” ac­cord­ing to a pro­gram flyer. Ap­prox­i­mately 11 per­cent of the en­gi­neer­ing work­force is com­posed of women, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics avail­able at the U.S. De­part­ment of La­bor’s blog.

The pro­gram is free to campers and “re­moves that barrier” for any girls in­ter­ested in the pro­gram, Shadei Jones, CSM pre-en­gi­neer­ing co­or­di­na­tor, said Fri­day in an in­ter­view.

The pro­gram en­cour­ages girls to “try as many dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties as pos­si­ble [and] helps the campers see they have strengths they can con­trib­ute to their teams,” Jones said.

The pro­gram also ex­poses campers to dif­fer­ent en­gi­neer­ing dis­ci­plines as well as en­cour­ages team build­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, she said. The campers vis­ited NAVAIR em­ploy­ees at Patux­ent River Naval Air Sta­tion to discuss pro­grams and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Charles County’s West­lake High School stu­dent Is­abella Cor­radi said she at­tended the sum­mer pro­gram last year, too. She said she likes “be­ing able to meet other like-minded girls who are in­ter­ested in sci­ence and math.”

The teenager said the best part about the camp, aside from mak­ing friends, was be­ing able to meet and speak with fe­male NAVAIR en­gi­neers and talk with them about the pro­grams. “We also got to fly in a plane” dur­ing the base tour, she said.

Cor­radi said her school en­cour­ages ev­ery­one to ex­plore STEM top­ics, not just the boys.

Calvert County Patux­ent High School stu­dent Sab­rina Thip­wong said girls “should be­lieve in your­self and try” as many dif­fer­ent things as pos­si­ble to “see what sticks, what you like.”

She echoed Cor­radi about net­work­ing with lo­cal women al­ready in the en­gi­neer­ing field.

“You make re­ally good friend­ships along the way,” she said. “I’d like to study me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing when I grow up.”

Holton Arms High School stu­dent Olga Sul­li­van said she learned about the pro­gram through her grand­mother, who is a mem­ber of the col­lege’s foun­da­tion that funded the pro­gram us­ing grant money. Sul­li­van said she’s in­ter­ested in be­ing a Navy cargo pi­lot “and fly­ing C-17s.” She said she thinks study­ing me­chan­i­cal or aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing will help her achieve that goal.

“I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in be­ing an en­gi­neer” and en­joys as­sem­bling IKEA fur­ni­ture and LEGO toy sets, Sul­li­van said. She said she and her fam­ily will break house­hold ap­pli­ances and ma­chines on pur­pose to let her “see how it was made” and either put back to­gether or build some­thing new.

Col­lege spokes­peo­ple were un­able to pro­vide a total cost of the camps, but sub­mit­ted the fol­low­ing state­ment from Michelle Good­win, CSM vice pres­i­dent of ad­vance­ment and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the CSM Foun­da­tion: “The CSM Foun­da­tion is able to fund out­reach ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams in STEM, the Arts, and other dis­ci­plines thanks to many gen­er­ous lo­cal cor­po­rate and pri­vate spon­sors in Southern Mary­land. We are grate­ful for our spon­sor­ship sup­port of all CSM stu­dents.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

En­gi­neer Like A Girl camper Olga Sul­li­van, left, points at a wooden craft stick as camper Is­abella Cor­radi in­serts it into the gum­ball ma­chine. Campers teamed up to cre­ate STEM projects the last day of camp.

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