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Middle school girls learn about engineering
By Amanda Perez, Intern
381-2741
Posted: 05/18/2009
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More than 200 female middle school students participated in a daylong educational conference May 12 to learn about the field of engineering. Hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American and the Region One Education Service Center, the Girls in Engineering Summit was created as a way to show young ladies what a career in engineering has to offer.


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Cassandra Carrizales, an eighth grader at Berta Cabaza Jr. High School in San Benito and Samantha Saldaña, an eighth grader at Miller Jordan Jr. High School in San Benito, learn about engineering concepts through the many hands-on activities available during the Girls in Engineering Summit May 12.
Now in its second year, the goal of the summit is to educate seventh and eighth grade girls about possible engineering degrees and careers.

“Our goal is to increase the number of women in engineering,” said Kristen Tribett, summit organizer and Texas Science Technology Engineering and Math coordinator. “We hope the exposure to information will inspire them to pursue a career in engineering.”

The summit was made possible through the partnership that UTPA has with the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative and because of the University’s collaborations with Region One ESC and South Texas College.

Speakers from UTPA, STC and Raba-Kistner Consultants Inc. and United Launch Alliance spoke to students during the summit and explained the benefits of attaining a higher education.

“We want to provide a positive learning experience,” said Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, associate dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at UTPA. “We provide the information that will help them make the right decision for their future.”

The summit also offered panel discussions led by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) from UTPA. SWE promotes the engineering industry to girls by explaining and showing how women can pursue careers in engineering.

“We reach out to girls on and off campus and serve as an outreach to parents as well,” said Anim Silva, president of SWE. “Engineering is not just for boys.”

In addition to speakers, there were hands-on activities such as wiring a lie detector machine that students could participate in as well as panel discussions.

Valerie Palacios, an eighth grader at Freer Junior High in Freer, Texas, said she enjoyed what the summit had to offer.

“I like learning how to improve technology,” Palacios said. “Engineering is a possible career for me and UTPA is among the choices I’m considering.”

For more information about the Girls in Engineering Summit, call the UTPA School of Engineering and Computer Science at 956/381-2673.

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