The College of Engineering will be hosting its first annual Girls in Engineering camp this summer. The week-long camp, which is designed for girls ages 13-15, aims to encourage more area girls to consider engineering as a career path.
"We've had a few girls go through our camps in the past, and we saw a need for these girls to have a place of their own to realize that women can be successful in engineering," said Elyse Bozsik, K-12 outreach coordinator for the college.
Nationwide, women received just over 18 percent of all bachelor's degrees in engineering in 2011, a number that has remained relatively flat over the past few years, according to research from the American Society for Engineering Education.
"What we're finding is that the sooner they get exposed the better," said Bozsik. "A lot of them just don't really have any idea what an engineer does, what engineering is all about."
The camp is designed to provide an introduction to a range of engineering disciplines through hands-on, interactive lessons such as bridge building, bottle rockets and chemical engineering experiments.
"We would like young girls to understand that science and engineering are professions that females can excel in, despite common stereotypes," said Kelly Doyle, program coordinator for the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research and a camp instructor. "We also want them to understand that engineering can be fun and interactive while promoting problem-solving skills."
Bozsik said the girls camp, as well as the college's other outreach activities, tries to combat the stereotype that engineering is just about math.
"Engineering is all about people," she said. "It's all about serving people and creating communities, for a civil engineer, making safer food, for a chemical engineer, or literally saving lives, for a biomedical engineer."
In addition to introductory engineering activities, the girls' camp has a number of specially designed components. The bulk of the instruction will be provided by female engineers, including College of Engineering faculty and graduate students as well as local professionals through the Society of Women Engineers.
Other events include a field trip to GE to visit women employed in prominent engineering roles and a career panel and mentoring luncheon where campers will be seated with professional engineers to provide one-on-one advice.
"I was encouraged to become an engineer when I was young by a series of mentors, and I would like to encourage other young females to become engineers as well," said Angelina Padilla, a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department and a camp instructor.
The camp is held on the University of Nevada, Reno campus from 9 am to 3 pm, June 24 to 29. Registration is $250, and scholarships and financial aid are available.