Women in Engineering and Technology Day Connects High School Students with Industry and University Leaders

By:    Brandon Pytel
Date: February 27, 2018

UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science continued its tradition of engaging with women in the STEM field with this year’s Women in Engineering and Technology Day.

A panel of industry and university leaders talk to audience.

A panel of industry and university leaders share their experience with attendees.

“Girls often grow up envisioning themselves in a number of jobs—as doctors or nurses, teachers, business and communications professionals—but not necessarily as engineers,” says Katelynn Barnett, program coordinator at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS).

Barnett organized this year’s Women in Engineering and Technology Day to change that. The day, which brought over 50 high school girls to campus, highlighted the vast opportunities available for these girls in the STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—field. It gave prospective students the opportunity to meet current engineering students and faculty, explore engineering programs and tour UC’s state of the art engineering facilities.

“There isn’t a lot of exposure about what engineers do and the positive impacts they have on society, especially for girls,” says Barnett. “It takes a program like this to show high school students that engineering is not just limited to building cars and robots. Women play as crucial of a role in this field as men.”

Visiting high school girls had a chance to learn about various degree programs at CEAS, from conducting crash absorption tests with mechanical engineering professors to touring chemical engineering labs with current faculty. These girls also conversed with industry and university leaders through panels and over lunch.

Current UC engineering students played a big part in executing the event. “A lot of current CEAS students shared their experiences in the classroom and on co-op,” says Barnett. “These stories can help high school students envision themselves in these types of experiences, or maybe even ignite the spark to chase after dreams they didn’t know were possible.”

Whitney Gaskins talks to a classroom of students.

Gaskins tells her story to future women engineers.

The day ended with a keynote speech by Whitney Gaskins, PhD, assistant dean of inclusive excellence and community engagement at CEAS. Gaskins shared her experiences as a woman and African-American in the engineering field, while talking about the stereotypes that sometimes accompany underrepresented populations.

“Remember how long it takes to change culture,” she said. “When you face an obstacle, even if it is unfair, do your best to prove stereotypes wrong. Be great because you are capable, and do not let anyone tell you you’re not.”

Gaskins assured girls in attendance that they would always have a home at UC. “Know that we are here to support you," she said. "I will always be an advocate for you and so will our staff. We want to see you succeed."

For high school students interested in the STEM field, register for next year’s Women in Engineering and Technology Day through the CEAS website in late January, 2019.