Girls jumpstart efforts at "Engineering a Future" during second annual workshop at TTU

Being curious about what makes an airplane fly, a lipstick last all day, or how to program a video game can indicate a girl’s early interest in science and engineering. “Engineering A Future,” a hands-on learning workshop hosted by Tennessee Tech University, is designed to foster and encourage that type of curiosity in girls from across the Midstate.

Last February, more than 70 girls in 5th through 8th grades attended the first workshop, and organizers are now preparing for the next workshop scheduled Feb. 28 at Tennessee Tech. TTU basic engineering professor Kris Craven says now is the time for professional engineers and corporate sponsors to volunteer to be a part of the workshop.

“This year our goal is to have about 150 girls attend,” said Craven. “We are putting the call out for volunteers to help us in every area with teaching and with sponsorship.”
One of the strengths of last year’s workshop was the small student/teacher ratio.

Craven says professional engineers, including men interested in teaching science and engineering to younger students, are invited to sign up now.

“We can use professional engineers in the community who are willing to help us, regardless of their experience with teaching young students,” said Craven. “We have people and lesson plans available to guide volunteers through the day.”

Karen Ramsey-Idem, materials technology manager at Fleetguard Inc., helped organize last year’s event and says there is a real need to create environments such as the workshop where girls don’t feel intimidated.

“Only 9 or 10 percent of professional engineers in the workforce are women,” said Idem. “Being involved with this workshop is one way corporations can work toward creating a more diverse workforce.”

The Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley will again help with recruiting participants this year. For the $10 fee, a girl can attended the workshop, receive a T-shirt and pay for a one-year membership to Girl Scouts.

"This is blossoming into a gender-equity event for girls in science," said Patti Roberts, director of membership and marketing for the Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley, a sponsoring organization. "This can be a first step in finding leadership opportunities that can impact their futures."

A unique aspect of this workshop is the partnership with the College of Education to include education majors as team leaders along side engineering majors.

“This event also provides a time and place for teachers and engineers to talk about what is happening in classrooms,” said Sally Pardue, mechanical engineering professor and organizer for EAF2003.

Last year’s activities included making balloon-powered paper planes, electric food, concrete art, edible villages and robotics. Participants also learned how water treatments can put fish to sleep and how understanding sound can help them tune out noisy little brothers.

This year the workshop theme is centered on aerospace technologies, and the activities for 7th and 8th graders will be more in-depth. With enough volunteers, Craven expects to be able to place participants in smaller groups for more individual attention and instruction.

The workshop is sponsored by TTU's College of Engineering and College of Education, the Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley, Fleetguard, the Society of Women Engineers, the American Association of University Women, and the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.

To volunteer or ask questions, contact Craven at 931-372-6027 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Roberts at 931-526-4925 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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