Hands-on engineering design projects, a VR experience and other activities designed to spark interest for middle school students in engineering were offered by the College of Engineering and its partners Feb. 24 at Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on the University campus.
About 50 middle school girls, genderqueer and non-binary students from the Carson City School District participated in the event, sponsored by the College and its partners Envirolution, a nonprofit that supports STEM education efforts, and the Society of Women Engineers. In addition, 15 professional engineers from eight local companies attended to mentor students throughout the day, allowing them to envision a career in engineering.
“We’re so glad to work with our partners to offer this experience to local students. Introducing young people to engineering – particularly from underrepresented groups in engineering professions – is so important to developing a strong and vibrant engineering workforce,” Loren Pietsch, MAKE Nevada coordinator, said. “Our goal of the event is to expose young students to engineering, empower them with STEM skills and show them that engineering is not only a great career choice but also a way to change the world.”
Women comprise only 15% of the engineering workforce and one way to increase that number is to engage with them early in life. Studies have shown that involving students in unique experiences early in their education fosters interest in engineering. Envirolutions began the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Program in 2018 in partnership with Tesla. Since then, this event has impacted more than 700 middle school students from 25 schools throughout Nevada and more than 1,000 students nationwide.
In addition to Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, the College’s K-12 outreach programs offer five opportunities for young people to learn more about engineering.