Young women explore engineering at career day

December 7, 2015

PLATTEVILLE, Wis – The University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Women in Engineering, Mathematics and Science Program recently hosted the Thermo Fisher Women in Engineering Career Day. The event is an opportunity for young women in grades 9-12 to learn from female faculty and students who are in engineering and other STEM fields through hands-on activities and speakers.

The event started over 18 years ago with the goal to encourage young women to consider engineering and other STEM fields as a career. “Only about 18 percent of engineers in the United States are women,” said Kim Sargent, program manager for the Women in Engineering, Mathematics and Science Program. “We are trying to change that because engineers create and develop for all members of society. Therefore, we need engineers who represent everyone.”

The event also recruits young women to come to UW-Platteville for engineering or other STEM majors. "At the very least we hope that they go into a STEM field. Wherever they choose to go, our program helped them make that decision,” said Sargent.

Approximately 100 young women attend this event every year, most from various schools in the area. The students select four out of eight hands-on sessions exploring different engineering fields.

One of the ways the Women in Engineering Career Day encourages interest in engineering and other STEM degrees is by providing role models. Along with the hands-on events, the young women hear from two speakers. Tanesha Norris, senior associate project manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, spoke to this year’s attendees about women in STEM. Astrid Lavell, junior industrial engineering major from Mount Horeb, Wis., also spoke this year about her positive experience as an engineering major at UW-Platteville.

This year, Jodi McDermott, assistant dean of the college of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, invited the students to visit the cadaver lab. After the event, a group of approximately 16 young women and chaperones went with McDermott to view the lab. “The girls really seemed to enjoy the cadaver lab, so it is something we are thinking of incorporating into future years,” said Sargent. By incorporating the cadaver lab, the event would give young women the opportunity to learn about other STEM disciplines offered at UW-Platteville.

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The Thermo Fisher Women in Engineering Career Day aligns with three of the priorities, including providing an outstanding education, fostering a community of achievement and respect and enriching the tri-states.

Written by: Megan Woolcock, Communications Specialist, University Information and Communications, 815-541-2502, woolcockm@uwplatt.edu

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