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New Gateway program reaches out to girls aspiring to be engineers

Camps tailored to ‘tweeners’

MakerGirls

Gateway has begun a program to encourage young females to enter the engineering career field through energetic camps focused on the likes of today’s “tweener”-aged girls.

The engineers of tomorrow need to be encouraged today, and Gateway has the staff and resources to do so.

In particular, Gateway is reaching out to aspiring female engineers, elementary and middle school girls who might not otherwise consider this career field – but are inspired to do so through a camp aimed at their age group and gender.

Gateway hosted a MakerGirl camp at its Fab Lab in its SC Johnson integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology center in Sturtevant and hopes to hold several more for area students in the future.

This summer marks the first that MakerGirl took its camps on the road from its University of Illinois host site, and Gateway is the first stop on the tour in Wisconsin, and the third overall. The camps provide a fun and girl-focused way to introduce and inspire them toward engineering and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education – two areas not typically sought after by females.

“I think it’s important to reach out to girls, and that’s what we are doing,” said Stephane Hein, a University of Illinois Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry student and a member of the MakerGirl leadership team. “There can be this stereotype that math, science and engineering is only for boys. Changing that stigma is important.”

Gateway’s Fab Lab director, Greg Herker encouraged MakerGirl to come to Gateway. He sees it as a benefit to area elementary and middle school girls as well as the women enrolled in Gateway’s engineering courses, who will assist with the camps.

“The engineering students seem to love helping with the camps as much as the participants did in having them there,” says Herker. “It’s that mentoring process of the college students mentoring the middle-schoolers that really adds a unique aspect of this program.”

Maker Girl introduces STEM education to girls ages 7 to 10 through 3D printing at the Fab Lab, providing a fun way to learn geared toward that age group and gender specifically.

“This program gets girls excited about STEM,” says Hein. “We focus on those topics they might already be interested in, such as fashions, sports, food. We use those general areas and see how 3D printing can be used in them.”

For more information, contact Herker at herkerg@gtc.edu