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Girls Consider Engineering on Career Day

Young women to experience hands-on engineering at Feb. 25 career workshop

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February 23, 2012 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- More than 200 Chicago-area middle school and high school girls will perform hands-on experiments and tour Evanston campus laboratories Saturday, Feb. 25, during Northwestern University’s 41st annual Career Day for Girls.

The career workshop, designed to encourage young women to consider engineering in their education and career choices at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road.

Alexandra V. Higareda, integration manager and manufacturing engineer at The Boeing Company, will kick off the program with a keynote address from 9:10 to 9:45 a.m. in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Family Auditorium.

An engineering design competition, laboratory tours, hands-on experiments, a goal-setting workshop focusing on different engineering majors, and separate panel discussions for students and parents will follow. Throughout the day, young women will have an opportunity to meet current women engineering students, faculty and alumnae.

In the design competition, teams of five will use paper, Popsicle sticks, index cards and tape to build a prototype of a new city hall for Chicago. The building will be tested to make sure it can handle the varying wind conditions found in the Loop.

Students participating in lab tours will, among other things, isolate DNA using the students’ own cells; learn how to program a robot; observe bacteria from everyday life using microscopes; learn about different prosthetics that change the lives of patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; watch how rivers create channels by erosion; and view demonstrations of chemistry’s explosions and wonders as well as a spinning bicycle wheel that defies gravity.

In hands-on afternoon sessions, high school students will create a prototype to safely transport a cookie from a balcony to the main floor using various materials while middle school students will rotate through three different activities, one of which is to create silly putty. These activities will expose students to various aspects of materials science and civil and mechanical engineering.

Career Day has been held at Northwestern annually since 1970, when only 4 percent of the students in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science were women. Today, nearly one-third of McCormick students are women.

(Registration for the program is closed as it has reached capacity.)