By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Women make up 58.1 percent of the overall workforce in the United States, yet the percentage of female workers in the engineering fields is much lower.
That’s why members of the Youngstown State University chapter of the Society of Women Engineers put together a program for Girl Scouts to explore the engineering fields, said Karenza Neigh, outreach chairwoman for SWE.
“They’re [doing] a lot of cool things that will help them realize the things that engineers do,” Neigh said. “Hopefully, we’ll catch their interest while they’re young. We want to inspire them.”
The program Saturday at YSU was for Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grades, the age when girls often lose interest in engineering, Neigh said.
Engineers solve problems, Neigh told the group of girls. “There’s a lot of engineering in the world. You can be anything.”
The girls were able to explore the various types of engineering — civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial and chemical — through a variety of activities.
They made slime, built bridges, created a roller coaster for marbles, powered a light with a lemon, and learned about 3D printing technology.
Hannah Kelly, 11, was excited to attend the event.
“I love it,” she said.
Kelly, who attended with her Canfield Girl Scout troop, is interested in pursuing engineering as a career.
“You can do mostly any job with it,” she noted.
She enjoyed the industrial-engineering workshop, where the girls used several items such as ribbon, butterfly and flower cardstock cutouts and glue, to create a greeting card. They learned that working together in assembly-line fashion results in greater productivity than going it alone.
“I think that was cool, but I want to do something more where you actually build it,” Kelly said.
She plans to pursue mechanical or chemical engineering. Women make up 5.5 percent of mechanical engineers and 22.3 percent of chemical engineers, according to statistics from the National Girls Collaborative.
Fellow Girl Scout Morgan Bowen, 10, also is interested in pursuing engineering as a career.
“I really enjoyed the 3D printer, how they were able to print out objects, and now they may be able to even print dresses,” she said.
The girls were able to see and touch a YSU penguin, ball bearing, spinal implant and more that were created using a 3D printer.
Stephanie Kelly, troop leader, said the program is fabulous.
It’s important for the girls to understand they can aspire to an engineering career if it’s something they’re interested in, she said. Six members of her troop attended.