Women in Engineering Day Challenges Future Vandals to Change the World

MOSCOW, Idaho – Oct. 26, 2016 – The University of Idaho College of Engineering begins its annual Women in Engineering Day at 8:45 a.m. Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in the Horizon/Aurora Rooms of the Idaho Commons Women in Engineering Day is a one-day workshop for high school women in grades 11-12 designed to introduce students to academic and career options in engineering and computer science.

Every year for the past 23 years the college has played host to high school students from across Idaho and Washington States. This year, the college expects 85 students, 65 from Idaho and 20 from Washington. Students will be traveling from high schools such as Gooding, Weiser and Grangeville in the south and from Lind-Ritzville, Wilson Creek and On Track Academy in the north.

“We are looking forward to hosting this year’s group of young women,” said Joe Law, the college’s associate dean for undergraduates. “The event is a great opportunity to show off the UI and promote the college through a fun, real-world engineering design challenge. It also allows us to demonstrate to young women the variety of ways they can make a difference in the world with an engineering education.”

The fun begins with a two-hour design challenge created by the UI student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). SWE is a national organization that empowers women to succeed, advance and be recognized for their life-changing contributions and achievements as engineers and leaders. This year’s design task involves using fixed supplies, a limited budget and time constraints, to build a payload delivery device to protect an egg in a drop test from the second story of the Idaho Commons.

“My hope is to have the students remember the feeling they had working on their challenge project,” said Bethany Kersten, junior chemical engineering student and community outreach chair for the UI chapter of SWE. “The excitement of working as a team, being creative and experiencing what it would be like to go to school at the UI is what convinced me to try engineering as a major after I participated in Women in Engineering Day three years ago.”

Students will work in teams to come up with an egg delivery prototype. Engineering faculty and members of SWE will evaluate each team’s ability to work together, how effectively they deploy resources, the ability of the payload device to protect an egg and a final oral presentation on the design process. Teams will have the opportunity to win prizes and scholarships toward future undergraduate engineering education at UI.

“Women in Engineering Day and other outreach events are so important to encourage young women to study in the STEM fields,” Kersten said. “The statistics can speak for themselves — far less female students end up studying STEM subjects than males. And although the gap has somewhat decreased in recent years, the gender ratio is not equal yet. My major goal in life is to encourage and support students, especially female students, in pursuing careers in which they can make a change in our nation's and world's issues. I believe STEM is the way to go right now to accomplish changes in climate change, world poverty, and even problems like racism.”

The event is co-sponsored by the UI College of Engineering, and the UI student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. For additional information visit www.uidaho.edu/wie. Media are welcome to attend.