AMHERST, Mass. – More than 300 female high school students, teachers, and guidance counselors from across Massachusetts will travel to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to attend the annual Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference on Monday, March 4. The conference is being held in the Campus Center Auditorium beginning at 8:30 a.m. It seeks to excite, inspire and encourage young women to pursue engineering as a career path.
Among the districts and schools represented at Career Day are the Greenfield Public Schools, Springfield Public Schools, Holyoke Public Schools, Westfield High School, Easthampton High School, Algonquin Regional High School, Oakmont Regional High School, Oxford High School, Southwick Tolland Regional High School, Groton Dunstable Regional High School, Chicopee Comprehensive High School, North Middlesex High School, Hudson High School, AMS Charter School and Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School.
This year’s keynote address will be presented at 11:15 a.m. by Valerie Gordeski of Raytheon, who will talk about “Engineering in the 21st Century: Improving the World.”
At 10 a.m., participants will take part in one of four exercises designed to teach some of the fundamentals of engineering. Professor David Reckhow of the civil and environmental engineering department will lead activities exploring water quality. Graduate students from the polymer science and engineering department will teach the participants how to design and test a solar cell. Representatives from Raytheon will help small groups design a roller coaster. Another group of girls will explore computing through CS Unplugged with Professor Aparna Mahadeu of Worcester State University.
At 9:15 a.m., a roundtable of women engineering and computer science alumna and current undergraduates will have a moderated discussion about careers in engineering, why they chose engineering, work-life balance and any related questions that arise.
At several points throughout the day, the girls will have a chance to interact with collaborators from industry and see state-of-the-art technology demonstrations, which will include a Standoff Radiation Detection System mounted on a truck and an infrared camera.
Teachers and counselors will learn about opportunities in engineering and computing, as well as admission to the respective departments and colleges at UMass Amherst. Jane Krauss from the National Center for Women in Information Technology will run a workshop titled “Counselors for Computing” for the attending educators.
This year’s Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day conference is sponsored by the Google RISE program, Raytheon, the Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology, the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, the Verizon Foundation, Cisco Systems Inc., Cleo J. Alexander, ’88, Frederick A. Fresh, ’88, Robert Gorman, ’63, Barbara C. Howard, ‘78, Elizabeth S. Ivey, ’76, Robert L. Klein ’58, James L. ’70 and ’73, and Martha S. ’74, Milton, Charles and Karen Peters, ’87, Norman G. Philibert, ’85, Gregory S. Thomas ’92, the Women in Engineering Program and the Collegiate Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.