This is my own reporting.
On Saturday, November 13, 2010, the Sierra Foothills Section of the Society of Women Engineers hosted their annual Engineering Awareness Program at Intel Corporation in Folsom, CA. This, their biggest event of the year, aims to promote engineering awareness among High School girls. This is in line with their mission statement which reads (in part): to “stimulate women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders.” The goal of the Engineering Awareness Program (says a SWE representative) is “to help high school women develop an interest in engineering and science; and to expose high school women to engineering at a level which interest them and demonstrates that they have the ability to be an engineer too.”
The event started at 8:30AM with registration. A breakfast buffet of bagles, fruit and juices was offered. The president and some of the officers of the electoral board addressed the group of eager young girls. There was an engaging ice breaker and then the girls were divided up into four groups which would experience various labs, seminars and activities. These activities gave the girls an inside look as to what it’s like to be an engineer.
There was a lab in which the girls made lip gloss from scratch. They used various household ingredients (such as cooking oil and food coloring) to make lip gloss and SWE even provided them with applicators. The aim was to allow the girls to play the role of an Chemical engineer in order to teach them about the process of designing and creating products for public consumption. After making the lip gloss, the girls put on their very own commercial advertising their product.
A kick ball lab was also on the agenda. This lab allowed the young ladies to put themselves in the role of a Mechanical Engineer so that they could learn about the process of designing and creating an automated kicker. There were many creative designs including a group who made an artificial foot out of cardboard and rubber bands. After making their kicker, the teams competed in kicking balls into cups for prizes.
There was also a demonstration by a high school FIRST robotics team called the FemBots of their award winning robot. The aim was to teach what is involved in robotics competitions. Incidentally, there was actually a real robotics competition being held on site and the girls were given the chance to sit in on it. The girls had the option of either seeing this demonstration or going to a Bio-Tech Seminar which explained the role of a Bio-technology Engineer. This Seminar was given by a Bio-Tech Grad Student from UC Davis.
Finally, a panel of student and professional engineers answered the girls’ questions about what it’s like and what it takes to be an engineer. The panel shared their personal experiences, struggles and triumphs. A popular question that was repeated in each group was “do you have to be good at math to be an engineer?” The girls got to talk with the panelists after the session was over.
Lunch was catered by Togo’s and Starbucks.
The conclusion of the event consisted of a raffle drawing of various prizes and the students were invited to the “SWE store” where they could pick out SWE memorabilia to take home with them.