University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Women in Engineering Programs (WIEP) hosted its fourth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in February, drawing female high school students from across the Chicago area.
Students with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math were invited to learn more about the engineering programs offered at UIC, and about engineering careers. Approximately 30 high school students spent the day on campus meeting with representatives from the Society of Women Engineers. The day included a hands-on activity, with the young women building their own piano circuit.
The goal of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, along with the many other efforts of WIEP, is to encourage the success of all women in the College of Engineering.
A Shadow Day Program is offered for female students considering UIC, pairing a prospective student with a female UIC student for a visit to campus.
WIEP hosts a Girls Who Code program during the school year on Saturday mornings for high schoolers, and instructors include UIC students and working professional alumnae who teach coding skills to students who have an interest in computer science.
The Women in Engineering Summer Program (WIESP) is a four-week program open to high school juniors and seniors, that provides hands-on learning opportunities and field trips. Participants work with world-renowned professors and UIC College of Engineering students.
“All of the WIEP programs are free to attend,” said Elsa Soto, associate director of WIEP. “We also have a scholarship program, and students who attend any of our programs are automatically considered for College of Engineering scholarships if they are admitted.”
Amy Gonzalez, a UIC sophomore majoring in bioengineering and minoring in electrical engineering, knows just how valuable the WIEP programs are. Gonzalez, who lives on the Southeast Side of Chicago, attended Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, part of the Chicago Public Schools System. Her Information Technology teacher recommended her for the WIESP camp.
“Before this program, I didn’t have experience with anything so it was a bit frightening,” Gonzalez recalled. “We went on several different trips, talked to different companies, discovered several different things that we never knew. How a bridge functions and what’s the best way to build one, how tiny and fragile the speaker in your phone is, how to code and make a game app, as well as how the CTA transportation system works. WIESP opened my eyes to several different aspects of engineering.”
Gonzalez will serve as a teaching assistant for the WIESP 2019 program this summer, and hopes to share her passion for engineering.
“I hope I am able to influence the lives and career paths of all these young girls, just like WIESP did for me. WIESP made me realize, that although engineering is a predominantly male field of study, females can do just as much, or even more in these fields and love it just as much,” said Gonzalez.
By Andrea Poet, UIC