On Friday and Saturday, Weber State University hosted its third annual Parent-Daughter Engineering Day in coordination with the Society of Women Engineers Collegiate. The event, which included girls grades 6-9 and their parents, has previously been held in February but, due to popular demand, was moved to November to have enough space for two sessions this year.
WSU STEP hosts the event so students can be viewed as role models. Students can also practice their public speaking skills and answer the girls’ questions.
“They can ask about their degree, some of the challenges that they face and what they plan to do once they graduate,” said WSU STEP director Rainie Ingram. “It has been a really popular event we fill up, so this year we were glad to be able to extend it to reach more girls.”
Brent Day’s ninth-grade daughter, Emily, wants to be a petroleum engineer and was glad the event had been extended because they were not able to attend last year, due to it spots filling up so quickly.
“It’s great to just give her a little more exposure to engineering and what she has to look forward to,” Day said.
The aim of the event was to draw more attention to women in the engineering field. Women currently only account for 18.4 percent of all engineering bachelor’s degrees received. Engineering student Cassandra King volunteered for the event hoping to change this.
“I just like reaching out to those younger (than) me and volunteering. There’s so many chances for our club to volunteer and help out with younger kids. We’re just trying to get those students more encouraged to go into engineering. I go into class where there’s only two girls. We’ve got these young kids doing brilliant things that we’ve got to get excited about engineering.”
Yisel Marquez, microbiology major and member of the STEP club, also volunteered to draw attention to women in the STEM field.
“This is good for them because it gives them the inspiration to do this. Engineering is more male-dominated, a lot of things are, (and) it shows them they can do this. They can be an engineer. They can do whatever they want. It’s good for us too, because we’re showing them that they can do this and it’s not just for guys.”
Along with constructing their “own rock star equilibrium” and playing engineering bingo, the girls made their own LED heart pendants. The girls received a kit to make them with instructions and had an hour to work on them with parents.
“Last year they did the light-up yo-yos,” Marquez said. “I even took a kit home and did it too, but I’m excited for the LED heart pendants.”
The aim of the activity was to get the girls thinking critically and problem-solving like engineers. Rather than students just fixing any problem that came up for them, they asked the girls questions that would get them thinking about how to fix it.
Parents also got to participate in a session called “Grow Your Own Engineer,” hosted by Ingram and Celeste Bain, biomedical engineer and nationally renowned engineering educator.
“We’ll be hosting the parent session to give advice to the parents on how they can help their daughters pursue careers in the STEM field,” Ingram said. “Then we tell them about our concurrent enrollment programs that we have and the programs that we offer at our college.”