Nearly 100 middle school girls turned out for the 2016 iCan Girls Engineering Conference recently at Alabama Power’s Corporate Headquarters.
The all-day event, held March 5, drew students from sixth-grade to eighth-grade from more than 50 metro Birmingham schools. Accompanied by their parents, girls were divided into teams assigned to three projects to learn about electrical, mechanical and civil engineering.
Colleges, universities and engineering societies were represented at booths to discuss educational opportunities. Current Alabama Power college co-op students were also on hand to discuss their experiences.
“We hope, if nothing else, these girls and parents gained a better awareness of the limitless career options engineering offers,” said Jakkera Ellison, a transmission line design and support engineer.
The students learned about civil engineering by building foil boats. They explored electrical engineering by building minirobots using only pager motors and toothbrush bristles. Mechanical engineering concepts were used to build a catapult.
In an afternoon session for parents, Veronique Zimmerman-Brown, project director of GEAR-UP Alabama, explained how they can be more involved in the math and science areas of their girls’ education. GEAR-UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Alabama is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education focused on 52 schools in Alabama’s Black Belt. The program is implemented in middle and high schools to boost the number of low-income students attending and succeeding in postsecondary education.
iCan was created by Alabama Power to promote engineering awareness and showcase opportunities in engineering for girls. The event has been hosted by employees since 2008 and includes multiple volunteers from the company.
“I am so thankful for the iCan volunteers. It takes a lot of work and dedication to pull off an event like the Girls Engineering Conference with such success,” said Elaine Kwarcinski, transmission general manager. “Their passion and commitment to helping our communities is inspiring. The parents of the students are always so grateful to Alabama Power for hosting an event that is dedicated to helping their daughters. The parents receive valuable advice from educators that equip them with the ability to guide and encourage their daughters.”
Source: Alabama NewsCenter