By Karina Ultreras
Make room boys because Cal Poly Pomona’s Women in Engineering Program is changing the game. On Monday CPP WE hosted Introduce a Girl to Engineering, and it will be hosting the event again on Feb. 29.
In an effort towards empowering middle school girls, some will be welcomed to campus for an introduction and first-hand experience in the engineering field.
Nicole Gutzke, CPP WE coordinator, believes this is a grand opportunity for young girls.
“It is to get them interested in STEM field and to teach them that engineering isn’t the picture that every female sees,” said Gutzke. “It is to open their eyes to engineering and a better understanding what engineering is about.”
Participating schools include Washington Middle School, South Pointe Middle School and four additional schools from the Downey Unified School District. In developing the event, CPP WE collaborated with Project Lead The Way.
Gerri Cole, outreach program director for CPP’s College of Engineering, explained how Project Lead The Way is incorporated into the event.
“We work with Project Lead The Way, which implicates engineering directly into the classroom [from] kindergarten all the way up to twelve grade,” said Cole. “The schools that are coming, a lot of them are apart of Project Lead The Way.”
The event will be held in the Bronco Student Center’s Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. Each day, 100 middle school girls will partake in activities led by CPP WE student assistances and volunteers. Activities include creating simple homopolar motors, cantilevers out of spaghetti and pneumatic cranes.
Students will rotate from section to section and will have 25-30 minutes to complete each activity. Gutzke explained the activities and the motives behind them.
“The activities are all different engineering styles,” said Gutzke. “We touch a little on manufacturing, chemical, industrial and civil to get them a big array of engineering and how it ties in to their everyday life.”
Brooke Neufeld, a third-year electrical engineering student and CPP WE student assistant, is aware of the great importance this event will bring to youths.
“The point of this is for them to get hands on experience and say, ‘oh I actually like that,'” said Neufeld. “Interesting them in math during middle school and science in high school so when they apply to colleges, they know what they want to do.”
Cole agrees with Neufeld in regards to the dominion effect in presenting STEM to girls.
“There are not as many engineering professionals who are female, so in our program, our desire is to start them at an earlier age and create a pipeline of students who are going to enter engineering,” said Cole.
Second-year aerospace engineering student Holly Everson is a volunteer for the event and trusts the event will succeed.
“I think it is great because young girls are not really encouraged to do engineering,” said Everson. “They are pushed towards more traditionally feminine careers. Introducing STEM careers, specially engineering so young to them, it’s really going to enforce positive stereotypes that this can be a career path for them.”
A room full of volunteers is ready to meet the middle school students and play a potential transformative role in a child’s life. Some can relate to the event on a personal level.
Similar to the girls in the program, Neufeld recalls learning about STEM at a young age.
“I did a lot of STEM events when I was a child, and it really affected my outcome as a student. It definitely inspired me to pursue engineering,” said Neufeld. “I’m looking forward to all the excited faces. There is just this face that students make when they figure out something that is unexplainable.”
First-year mechanical engineering student Kiana Franco is excited to be a role model through her volunteer work. Franco also attended STEM-related events at a young age, which peeked her interest in engineering.
“It is nice knowing I will brighten a little girls day, and they don’t have to worry about people telling them, ‘oh you can’t do that because you are a girl,'” said Franco.
With last year being a success, CPP WE was able to expand. It hopes to continue and grow in the future.
“We have such a high demand that we have added a whole other day just for 100 more girls,” said Gutzke. “It wouldn’t be possible without all our volunteers, so it is very exciting to see all these engineer students here to help.”
Andres Torres / The Poly Post
CPP Women in Engineering
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