NDSU students and local businesses introduce girls to engineering
Published March 2016
Teams of eight girls used rubber bands and string to stack plastic cups into a pyramid. Engineering industry mentors stood close by offering encouragement. The exercise served as an icebreaker, but it also taught the students to define the problem, brainstorm solutions, build a prototype and conduct tests. They are all steps in the engineering design process.
The pyramid project kicked off Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Nearly 300 eighth-grade girls from 10 area schools visited NDSU. Engineers from area companies were on hand to mentor them. The event is part of the College of Engineering’s outreach activities aimed at inspiring youth to consider an education and career within the STEM disciplines.
The day began at NDSU’s Memorial Union where the students used their ingenuity to build and test small model shelters out of household materials. They posed questions to students from the NDSU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
“Is it harder to get jobs being a girl?” asked an eighth-grader.
“In one word—No,” said Mackayla Headlee, a senior majoring in electrical engineering. “We actually have a lot of job opportunities because of the skills we offer. Women make awesome, hirable engineers.”
Sarah Russell, a senior in industrial engineering and management, said women add much-needed diversity to engineering teams. They bring different ideas, perspectives and values. Russell, a former NDSU student body president, explained that vehicle airbags were initially designed to deploy in front of an average adult male’s chest. The standards frequently resulted in injuries to drivers and passengers of smaller stature, often women and children.
The students heard from Ashlen Wright, Miss Fargo Teen 2016. Wright is a 10th-grader at West Fargo’s Sheyenne Middle School. She plans to study engineering and become an entrepreneur who mentors women in STEM careers.
Students spent the afternoon at Appareo, KLJ Engineering, Bobcat Co., John Deere Electronic Solutions, SRF Consulting Group Inc., Moore Engineering, Microsoft and Sanford.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is an annual event held during National Engineers Week.