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Igniting Interest in Engineering

girls working on project

February 2017


More than 500 grade-school girls tinkered, built, imagined, and enjoyed 28 hands-on activities and demonstrations Wednesday at the the sixth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering program at St. Ambrose University.

Jodi Prosise, PhD, chair of the Engineering Department, said the goal is to ignite an interest in engineering to encourage more women to join one of the best-paying professions in the country.

Between 2004-2014, the National Science Foundation reported that women earned fewer than 20 percent of all bachelor's degrees in engineering.

Prosise began Introduce a Girl to Engineering five years ago in hopes of triggering an interest in engineering among young female students.

"The fact is, women and minorities are motivated by different things," Prosise said. "It's important for us to appeal to these different motivations. At St. Ambrose, our engineering programs focus on the human side of industrial and mechanical engineering. We show all students how they can use their skills in mathematics and science to make a difference in the world."

Attendance has increased dramatically from that first year, with fewer than 100 in 2012 to 508 this year. The girls attend more than 100 Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois schools, and Prosise said parents gave high praise for the activities and interactive nature of the event. 

More than 130 volunteers assisted with the program, which is sponsored by the Quad Cities Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the SAU Society of Women in Engineering, with generous support of Genesis Systems Group; John Deere; Shive-Hattery; Stanley Consultants, Inc.; the SAU Teacher Education Program; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and ebeam Technologies.

"The Quad Cities is a remarkable hub for engineering innovation," Prosise said. "Our local companies are dedicated to improving the future of our youth by getting kids interested in STEM. The enthusiasm from the companies for our Introduce a Girl to Engineering event is astounding."

Watch local coverage of the event from WQAD-TV8 and WHBF-TV4.

MORE LIKE THIS:AmbroseZine, Engineering and Physics, K-12 Opportunities

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