What a way to finish off Engineering Week! I got to check out an outstanding event put on at the University of Texas Austin, where the focus is exposing the next generation of women to science and engineering.
Ever since I started working at NI, I wanted to get involved with the various events the company supports. One event that always stood out to me is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Every year, NI puts on a workshop to give girls fun, hands-on interactions with science and engineering through robotics. After two years of volunteering, I wanted to show the community just how exciting and inspiring the day is for both the girls who attend and the people who make it happen.
If you're thinking about getting involved, the National Girls Collaborative shares their State of Girls and Women in STEM report on their website. It helps show the need for more involvement and growth in this movement.
For me, it all became real when I gave an engineering presentation at my nieces' elementary school in Florida. Afterwards, the teacher had the students write thank you letters to me. As I read each letter, my heart sank hearing girl after girl express that they didn't think engineering was for them but thanks anyway for presenting. Why wasn't engineering tangible for them? Why wasn't it desirable?
That was it. I had my mission. The next year I worked with my two nieces on their science fair experiments, ensuring they truly experienced the magic of scientific investigation and discovery. Their curiosity was captured, and they presented their project on mapping magnetic field lines. I continue to work with them and volunteer as much as possible, but so far so good. One now says she wants to learn about forensics and the other wants to study Literature. (You can't win them all! But I plan to show her the importance of math and science as a language. We need more people writing about that anyway!)
Here are some ways to learn more about how UT is impacting tomorrows women in science and engineering or to get involved.