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Amphitheater Middle School girls to learn about engineering field from UA students

Amphitheater Middle School girls to learn about engineering field from UA students

UA engineering students will help introduce middle school students to the field at an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event.

The UA partnered with Amphitheater Middle School to promote engineering as a possible future career for girls at an engineering event hosted today. Scott Weiler, the engineering teacher at Amphi Middle School, organized the event and coordinated with the UA, Girl Scouts of America, and local engineers of Tucson to promote diversity in the science fields.

“We are missing a great opportunity to have some brilliant minds contribute to these fields,” Weiler said. ”They’ve become male-dominated and maybe a little bit stagnant because there is not fresh perspectives being brought in.”

Girls were nominated by their teachers to take part in the event and will get the opportunity to learn about a career in engineering and also talk to college women in those fields. The luncheon involves mentors from the UA’s Women in Science and Engineering club, as well as professionals from the community. The girls will be shown a presentation on engineering and then paired with a college mentor to ask any questions or just talk.

“It’s a chance to talk to a girl that’s done this before,” said November Papaleo, the director of WISE. “The earlier we start the process of demystifying science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, the more likely it is for students to continue pursuing those interests.”

The mentors will talk with the young girls for more than an hour to encourage them to pursue careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to give them advice on how to make it happen and be successful.

“You can go to college and you can be a science major,” said Alyssa Salanga, president of WISE and a physiology senior serving as a mentor. “Because a lot of times they [girls] think it’s all boys and that they can’t do it because of whatever reason.”

The goal of the event is to provide young girls the opportunity to learn what engineering is and open their eyes to the possibilities of college and engineering as a career, according to Weiler.

This event corresponds with National Engineers Week that runs from Feb. 17 through Feb. 23 and is the first of a series of science, technology, engineering and mathematics events planned for girls in the Amphitheater School District. After this week’s luncheon, the girls will have a chance to attend the Expand Your Horizons conference at the UA in March, sponsored by WISE, and then participate in a week-long science and engineering summer camp free of charge.

“I think that if we’re going to say that STEM is important for our nation, engineering needs to be emphasized in that list. It can’t just be a way of making the acronym sound fancier,” Weiler said. “Not every one of these girls is going to be an engineer. But the idea is that these girls are all very capable and basically we want to show them ‘just don’t count it out yet.’”

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