About 30 girls from local high schools and Girl Scout troops throughout Long Island spent a day building bridges, touring labs and learning about careers in STEM at the Second Annual Girls in Engineering Day hosted by the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science.
In a hands-on workshop, Saryn Goldberg, associate professor of mechanical engineering and Edward Segal, assistant professor of civil engineering, taught the girls how to build suspension bridges out of paperclips and measure how the bridge loading changes based on the shape of the main cable and the load distribution. The girls later divided into teams and used what they learned to design their own bridges out of masking tape to support a foam deck.
“Design is often an iterative process,” Dr. Goldberg said. “It starts with an understanding of the engineering principles that inform design choices. I would hope that the girls came away with an appreciation of what goes into the engineering design process.”
The girls also attended a discussion about opportunities for women in STEM careers with Catherine McNally, engineering projects director at Telephonics Corporation and Uzo Osuno, an IT consultant and adjunct assistant professor of computer science at Hofstra.
“Women (in STEM) need to be creative and organized and seek out professional role models,” Professor Osuno said.
Osuno and McNally explained how they successfully balance the demands of career and family.
“I was happy to learn that engineering can provide women with versatile career options and flexibility if you want to raise a family,” said Regan Carroll, a junior at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead.
Following the presentation, DeMatteis students and faculty conducted tours of the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing, Big Data, Aerodynamics and Transport Phenomena, Materials Analysis, Electrical and Signal Processing and Cell and Tissue Engineering labs.
“I thought the Cell and Tissue lab was very cool,” Yazmeen Deyhimi, a freshman at Schreiber High School in Port Washington said. “I like biology and we just finished learning about stem cells in class. I liked seeing it in a real world setting.”
The annual event was organized by Philip Coniglio, director of the DeMatteis Co-op Program and is designed to help get female high school students excited about opportunities in STEM fields.