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Buckeye engineers share their passion, inspiring young girls to consider engineering

Forty high school girls from the Columbus area recently got the chance to be Buckeye engineers for a day and for some, the temporary experience could have a lasting effect.

The visit was a part of The Ohio State University College of Engineering’s WiE Explore program. Hosted by Women in Engineering (WiE), the day was open to ninth and 10th grade girls and featured hands-on activities, discussion panels and laboratory tours, with the goal of exposing the young students to the world of engineering while helping them realize their potential to pursue a degree in the field.

“Different activities introduce areas of engineering for students to consider,” said Olga Stavridis, assistant director for WiE. “Having female Ohio State engineering student volunteers allows high school girls to experience and interact with positive role models. Through these experiences, the high schoolers can begin to self-identify as future engineering students.”

Showing young girls that they are capable of becoming engineers is important to current women in the profession who can remember being intimidated when they first started out in the field.

“Coming from a small school, I was never exposed to something like this,” said Christine Ruple, a fourth-year civil engineering student. “It was intimidating to say I wanted to go into engineering because all people would say to me was that it was hard. Coming to WiE Explore, these girls see that you can break it down, make it easier and see how something you love to do is related to engineering.”

For many of the girls in attendance, the program allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of engineering that they would not ordinarily receive in their high school classes.

“I wanted to look at what engineering was and see if it was something I might want to do for a career,” said a Westerville 10th grader. “We have done some engineering activities in physics class, but it was nothing like this.”

After spending the day on Ohio State’s campus and learning from current women engineering students, organizers said the high schoolers left confident with the knowledge that a career in engineering is entirely possible for them.

“If anyone tries to intimidate them and say that engineering is hard and they probably wouldn’t like it, then they can say ‘no, I’ve done it before—I know I can do it,’” said Alexis Burns, graduate assistant in the Diversity Outreach and Inclusion Office in the College of Engineering.

by Emily Lehmkuhl, College of Engineering student communications assistant