UT Society of Women Engineers Chapter Hosting Next Generation of Researchers

swe-logoTo help ensure that the next generation of researchers is as diverse as the topics they study, the UT chapter of the Society of Women Engineers is hosting an event to spark and nurture interest in STEM fields among high school girls.

Tomorrow’s Engineers Today will bring together girls from around East Tennessee on October 22 for a day exploring various aspects of STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—education and careers.

“It is our goal to give girls the confidence they need to pursue a career in a diverse and growing field,” said Maggie Fraser, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. “So far we have reached out to local Girl Scout troops, spread the word on social media, and asked our members to visit schools that they are familiar with.”

The event is sponsored in part by Kingsport-based Eastman.

Studies from the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have shown that the number of STEM-based careers grew three times faster than in other areas over the past decade, with the added benefit that the average STEM worker makes 33 percent more than comparable employees in other fields.

While those statistics show the growing importance of STEM careers to the nation’s economy, the disproportionate representation of genders in such fields is cause for concern.

For example, the US Census Bureau revealed that women made up almost half the workforce but only a quarter of the workers in STEM-related fields.

That’s an eye-opening difference that groups like Fraser’s hope to change for the better.

“Careers in STEM continue to be in high demand,” said Fraser. “We want to create an environment where girls are comfortable asking questions about high school, college, and beyond.”

At the UT event, students will take part in experiments that range from extracting DNA from a strawberry to building rockets and towers.

Furthermore, they will get the experience of spending the day with current UT students representing the various departments, giving them a chance to talk to people in the fields that pique their interest.

Engineering lecturer Rachel McCord will also give students tours of the engineering fundamentals labs.

Parents are encouraged to attend a special half-day event—held at the same time—that will talk about ways they can help their children succeed.

Cost for students is $5, with registration available at the group’s site here.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)