Source: The Daily TimesAmy Beth Miller | February 21, 2019

Joy Kimbrough, The Daily Times

For hundreds of area middle and high school girls unsure of what engineering means, a world of career possibilities opened for them Thursday at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

“Engineering is a way of thinking, of being a problem-solver,” Karen Hogue, a nuclear engineer with Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC told them. She sees engineering as “how to apply science and math to fix the world’s problems.”

Hogue was one of six female engineers on a panel discussion at Y-12’s eighth annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering event. Y-12 was expecting more than 600 girls from 25 schools in seven counties at the New Hope Center, but school closures because of illness dropped attendance to about 400.

Eagleton Middle School sent nearly all its eighth-grade girls to the event. That gave 65 students an opportunity to hear from someone other than their teachers what engineering is, explained Gina Grubb, who teaches STEM at the school.

The girls did more than listen.

In the exhibit hall a Heron’s fountain demonstrated hydraulics while a 3-D printer created gears, volunteers in exoskeletons showed how the suits support industrial workers, and pennies turned silver through electroplating.

Nearly two dozen exhibits brought to life fields such as chemical, mechanical, electrical, industrial, nuclear and fire protection engineering.

“What could you make that an engineer wouldn’t have a hand in?” asked Ben Green, a mechanical engineer talking to girls at the 3D printer.

An analytical chemistry display offered stickers for the girls featuring an old saying with a modern correction. It reads, “Women belong in the kitchen” — except that in this new version the word “kitchen” is crossed out and replaced with “laboratory.” Another sticker reads, “Who wants to be a princess when you can be a scientist?”

The University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering and Roane State Community College’s Mechatronics Program were on hand to answer questions about education opportunities.

Female engineers on the panel encouraged the students to take not only classes such as calculus, physics and chemistry, along with robotics and additive manufacturing, but also art, which fosters an ability to think in three dimensions, and music for creativity.

“Engineering is not just science,” said Noe Laney, a mechanical engineer.

Many girls at the event hadn’t thought about a career in engineering yet, but others’ interest already was piqued, often by family members.

EMS student Sadie Carl-Sanchez was thinking about chemical or electrical engineering, with inspiration from a grandfather who is an electrician.

A movie about the Ebola virus led Heritage High School sophomore Alissa Ramoie to think about a career in epidemiology, but then she discovered a biomedical engineering program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University when her brother went to school there.

Emilee Warren, a freshman at HHS, is interested in computer science and digital design. “I like to see something in my head and then put it on a computer,” she explained.