The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 6, 2012

Designing women? UPJ camp introduces girls to engineering field

— It’s a camp created strictly for girls; no boys allowed.

The Learning Lamp, in partnership with Pitt-Johnstown, is hosting a weeklong camp, “Girls Got Engineering,” in the university’s Engineering and Science Building with the goal of getting area girls in grades six through eight interested in pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

“Girls are a minority in engineering and many are capable but don’t see this as an option because they don’t have the exposure, so this camp is an opportunity to help young girls develop their talents and see this as an alternative,” said Amy Miller, camp instructor and department head and associate professor in UPJ’s mechanical engineering technology department.

Over the course of the camp, the girls will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on activities that will cover the different types of engineering and include designing, building and testing solar-powered cars, a robotic hydraulic arm and water rockets.

They also will take part in a “how things work” activity where they’ll bring in something such as a remote control, take it apart and then do a presentation to the group on what they’ve learned on how everything fits together.

Miller said the perfect time to get girls interested in STEM careers is the middle school years, because once they get to high school they’ll need to take classes, such as calculus and physics, that will get them started down the right path.

“Women do offer a different perspective to the field and it’s important that we continue to do these programs so girls can see what engineering is all about,” she said. “It is hard work, but a lot of fun and can be a very rewarding career.”

The camp wraps up Friday and is being funded in part by grants from the National Girls Collaborative Project and Female Alliance STEM Excellence organizations.

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