Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day at UMass Amherst Seeks to Inspire Young Women

AMHERST, Mass. – The annual Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is being held Monday, Oct. 28 in the Campus Center Auditorium beginning at 9 a.m. More than 300 female students, along with teachers and guidance counselors from 33 high schools in Massachusetts, will participate. The aim of the program is to excite, inspire and encourage young women to pursue engineering as an academic track and career path.

Students from six high schools in Springfield, two in Chicopee, two in Pittsfield and one in Holyoke will take part. There will also be students from high schools in Amherst, Belchertown, Westfield, Easthampton, North Middlesex, Fitchburg, Martha’s Vineyard, Shrewsbury, Littleton, Blackstone Valley, Marion, Windsor and Groton.

The keynote address is at 9:40 a.m. The speaker is UMass Amherst alumna Leslie Jelalian, who was recently named by Mass High Tech as one of its 20 “Women to Watch” in 2013. Jelalian is vice president/general manager of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Solutions business area for the Electronic Systems sector of BAE Systems.

At 10:15 a.m., participants will take part in four educational exercises to teach some of the fundamentals of engineering. Ben Marlin, professor of computer science, will conduct an exercise entitled “Dance Party: A Step-by-Step Intro to Computer Programming with Scratch.” David Reckhow, professor of civil and environmental engineering, will lead activities exploring water quality. Graduate students from polymer science and engineering will teach participants how to design and test a solar cell. Erin Baker and undergraduate Moijue Kaikai of the mechanical andindustrial engineeringdepartment will guide an exercise in designing a wind turbine.

Throughout the day, the girls will also meet with representatives from industry and see state-of-the-art technology demonstrations. Expected exhibitors include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Verizon and Verizon Wireless, Tighe and Bond, Google and Vista Print. Teachers and counselors can learn about opportunities in engineering and computing, as well as admission to the respective departments and colleges at UMass Amherst.

This year’s Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day conference is sponsored by BAE Systems, Raytheon, the Verizon Foundation, the computer science department, the Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology, the Women in Engineering Program and the Collegiate Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.