Last Saturday, girls ranging from the fourth to eighth grades created small-scale wind turbines and competed in a catapult-building contest. The girls had opportunities to talk with volunteer engineers from Weber State University and the Weber County community.
The event was Parent-Daughter Engineering Day. Celeste Baine, author of over 20 books on engineering, careers, education and curriculum, was the host of the festivities.
“This day rocks because of the parents,” Baine said. “It’s especially difficult for teenage girls who are interested in building to become involved without the influence of their parents, especially their moms.”
Shaylee Klas was one of the girls who participated in building a turbine.
“If my dad wasn’t an engineer, I don’t think I would have gotten interested in engineering,” Klas said.
Also in attendance was Kevin Bongiovanni, a software engineer at Hill Air Force Base who is also involved in the community of student engineers.
“The kids get exposed to competition as well as cooperative problem solving, and we have a lot of fun,” Giovanni commented.
Engineering opportunities are not limited to the younger community, however. WSU has many opportunities for training in engineering as well as areas that can be combined with engineering.
Rainie Ingram, a recruiting officer and organizer of events like Parent-Daughter Engineering Day, gives counsel to WSU students on how to combine their majors to achieve personal career goals. Geri Haremes, the College of Applied Science and Technology secretary, also advises in this area. Students can also get involved in the Science, Technology, Engineering Programs club in order to get more experience.
“I try to get our STEP club students into the community,” Ingram said. “We’ve recently started a YMCA program where our students spend about two months at each junior high school in the Ogden County school district.”
STEP students also participate in robotics-building activities and various other service projects in the Ogden and Davis county areas. Ingram said that students who are majoring in other areas but are interested in engineering may be interested in a bachelor of integrated studies or combining an already established major with a major in the College of Applied Science and Technology.
“Engineers are needed to solve so many of the problems we have like clean air and clean water, making sure we all have food, getting electricity out of ocean currents,” Baine said. “Engineers also have to make sure that they don’t hurt the environment while trying to get resources out. Engineers have to solve those problems and still have an environmentally friendly system that’s not hurting the animals.”
Baine’s most recently published book, The Green Engineer, focuses on one of the newly popular majors in universities throughout the United States, which is environmental engineering. Baine pointed out that almost all jobs touch the environment, and there’s a place for engineers within every field.
“It’s really good to take a bit of time and make a list of everything you love to do and put it on the list,” Baine said. “Whatever it is, put it on the list and prioritize it. Then maybe look into the engineers in the field you like most.”
According to Baine, engineering can be combined with anything students are passionate about. She said most people are not aware that a company like Wilson that designs sports equipment will not hire an engineer to design tennis rackets unless they play tennis themselves.
“Even if you can take only one class a semester, just stay in school,” Bongiovanni said. “Pick something you love and work for it a little at a time. You’ll get there eventually.”