The largest non-profit organization for women engineers is bringing its popular annual event for kids to Austin this fall – Invent it. Build it. The event takes place Saturday, October 28, 2017, 9:00am – 3:30pm, at the Austin Convention Center as part of WE17, the largest conference and career fair for women engineers.
Invent it. Build it. is a unique opportunity for Austin girls to discover what it’s like to be an engineer. K-12 is the stage where girls first get exposed and take an interest in STEM, and it’s been demonstrated that this stage in life is significantly important for career motivation. However, despite performing at similar levels as their male counterparts, girls’ confidence and interest in engineering and math experiences a decline during middle school. What’s more is only 19.9 percent of bachelor’s degrees in STEM are earned by women!
One of the things we can do to close the gender gap is provide more STEM education and inspiration at a young age. Programs like Invent It. Build It are so important to changing the perception of engineering and increasing the female representation within STEM fields. You can’t be what you can’t see!
At Invent it. Build it, girls in grades 6-8 will be immersed in a day full of engineering activities at the SWE Girls Program. They’ll meet real women engineers and learn more about what it’s like to become an engineer. They’ll also be exposed to resources that will help them on their path to pursue engineering. The day will be led by the host of PBS’ Design Squad, Deysi Melgar.
In addition to the SWE Girls Program, there is a High School Girls Program. Girls will learn about different types of engineering jobs and universities with excellent engineering programs. The High School Girls Program will be led by female race car driver, Ariel Biggs, who has a 15-year career in racing and is pursuing an engineering degree.
There is also a Parent/Educator Program (PEP) where parents, teachers and guardians will also participate in engineering activities, learn about engineering careers and scholarships available, and be given helpful college admission resources for their children or students. Parents and teachers play an integral role in career motivation for girls, and it’s just as important for them to understand STEM as it is for their daughters or students.
Invent it. Build. it has proven to make a significant difference in girls’ opinions and perspectives of engineering. At the 2016 program in Philadelphia, 36 percent of girls reported having an interest in becoming an engineer before the event, which increased to 57 percent after the event. Further, 74 percent of girls saw a connection between their interests/passions and engineering.
Additionally, 84 percent reported improvements in their ability to think of many different possible ways to solve a problem, 83 percent reported improvements in their confidence in building things, and 75 percent reported improvements in their confidence in problem-solving.
All Invent it. Build it. attendees will also have exclusive access hours to the coinciding EXPO, where they can learn about engineering clubs, engineering camps, competitions, after-school programs, scholarships and more. The EXPO is open to the public whether or not they attend the other programs.
Invent it. Build it. will leave Austin-area girls with a better understanding of engineering and a strengthened confidence in engineering-related skills. The program is an exciting opportunity to show girls what an engineer looks like and instill the confidence that they too can be an engineer.
The cost of the girls’ programs is $7, and the cost of the PEP program is $5. The EXPO is open to the public free of charge and is open from 11:15am-2:00pm.
In addition to Invent it. Build it., SWE is offering students an opportunity to be recognized for their STEM skills by applying for the SWENext Northrup Grumman Community Award. Students can submit a video or essay that examines a problem in their community and proposes a solution using STEM. Award recipients will receive free participation in Invent it. Build it., a trophy and certificate, and a chance to showcase their ideas at Invent it. Build it.! Applicants must be in grades 9-12. To learn more and apply, click here!
And, there’s more! SWE is hosting a meet-up before Invent it. Build it. for a screening of the engineering film, Dream Big, on Friday, October 27, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.The showing will be held at Bullock Texas State Museum. The showing is open to everyone and free. Click here for more information and to reserve your ticket.
To learn more about the Society of Women Engineers, visit swe.org.