One mom walked down the hall in the college of engineering shaking her head, stating “I can’t believe they had all of this here. I didn’t expect this much to be going on…”
But a lot was going on, in just about every hallway in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, and this mom was one of many that came to RIT with a future engineer or scientist to the Women in Engineering@RIT Open House on Saturday, Nov. 5.
This is the second year the WE@RIT team opened their house to 5th – 9th grade girls, their parents and teachers. More than 500 regional middle, high school and charter school students descended on the engineering college.
Parents brought their children and Girl Scout troops and teachers joined them—all interested in learning more about engineering. It was an adventurous field trip where girls saw that although STEM programs are challenging, they are do-able. That there are young women, not too much older than themselves, who have great confidence in talking about building race cars, explaining radio frequency waves and describing the inner workings of a computer.
Who are they and what did they bring to the day? Here are just a couple of the RIT students who probably made quite an impact on the younger girls who stopped by their exhibits:
Kristine Liotta, a third-year electrical engineering major from Albany, N.Y., explained how radio waves traveled to and from antennas, what could obstruct waves and how they might be affected by a metal roof.
Lianne Ketcham, a first-year student from Sagertown, Pa., and Maggie Coulter, a second-year student from Syracuse, both in the chemical engineering program, explained density and how different liquids separate, even in one single container for their Rainbow in a Jar demo.
Coulter is heading to Iceland this winter break as part of a sustainability research project. Both shared that engineering is a way to make a difference. Coulter shared a quote that sustains her passion for engineering and sustainability, “Enough for all, forever.”
During a demonstration of surface tension, the girls were able to watch a gooey mix of water and corn starch transform from nearly a liquid to a solid as it danced on a covered stereo speaker for the Corn Starch Monster exhibit. The vibrations cause the mixture to rise, forming “monsters,” but also displaying the results of motion on different combinations of materials. Talk about all shook up…
All aspects of the event were organized and coordinated by WE’s female engineering students—from the lab and building tours, to developing all the hands-on activities and demonstrations of all things engineering. Materials they handed out were written to the girls’ level as well as a teacher’s so that the demonstrations and activities could be recreated at home or in the classroom.
While the numbers of young women in STEM is slowly rising, it is rising because of the focus on three important factors that influence young women looking into engineering as a serious career option: support from parents, support and activities in school and role models of other successful women in the engineering and science fields.
WE@RIT combined them all in one successful event.
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