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Fledgling ‘girl engineers’ test mettle at SIUE day

siueengineersEmily Fitzgerald works under a desk and tests her bridge (SIUE photo).

From Illinois Business Journal news services

The Society of Women Engineers at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville hosted more than 120 young girls at its third annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” Saturday, March 21, in the SIUE School of Engineering Building.

“We help young girls see that they can do in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and that it’s not just a male-oriented field,” said Sofia Chkautovich, a senior civil engineering major and SWE youth outreach chair.

Girls from grades 5-8 attended the daylong event that offered exposure to the engineering field. Participants completed a total of five activities, covering the fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial and computer science engineering.

“They enjoy the activities, because they have group leaders – SWE students – who are closer to their age,” Chkautovich added.

This year’s theme was “Seeing the World as an Engineer.” Attendees built different iconic international engineering feats such as The Pyramids, London Bridge and Times Square. Small groups used teamwork to design and create their projects.

Professional women engineers and SIUE students were on site providing support and guidance to program participants. Following the completion of each activity, the professional engineers and the SIUE engineering students offered analysis and asked the participants probing questions about the project.

During the event, the creative problem solving aspects of engineering were discussed and explored. The participants worked collaboratively on projects, and were encouraged to ask questions and use their imagination.

Attendance was down slightly from a year ago as the event, which was originally slated for Feb. 21, had to be rescheduled because of inclement weather. “We are hopeful that the event will continue to grow,” Chkautovich said. “We believe that we could have a successful day with as many as 200 girls.”

The SIUE School of Engineering offers eight undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees and a cooperative doctoral program. Companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area provide students challenging internships and co-op opportunities, which often turn into permanent employment. All undergraduate programs are accredited by their respective accreditation agencies.




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