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The University of Alabama

UA Women Engineers to Host Event for Middle School Girls

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama section of the Society of Women Engineers, or SWE, will host about 200 middle-school girls at the 2015 “Wow! That’s Engineering” event Oct. 17.

This year’s event is Halloween-themed and will include activities that represent various disciplines of engineering. Activities will begin at 9 a.m. in H.M. Comer Hall and include glow-in-the dark flubber, fake blood, bridge design, snap circuits, fog machine and water filter.

“We love to show future engineers and scientists that you don’t have to be male to pursue a degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math fields),” said Virginia Ourada, a junior in mechanical engineering from Weatherford, Texas, and a member of UA SWE.

“By hosting this event, we can reach out to those young students and break the myth about how you have to be male, and we can also teach and literally show the students how anyone can pursue a STEM degree,”  Ourada said. “It is not boring, and it can be very fun and rewarding.”

The event is open to girls in the fifth through eighth grades, along with their parents and teachers who can attend for no cost. The adults are invited to participate in a separate parent/educator program featuring a hands-on activity along with a chance to network with engineers, university faculty, science and engineering experts and students. The event costs $5 per student and includes lunch.

“Middle school is the time when students begin choosing the path that they will take through high school, and studies done with girls and engineering show that if you wait until high school, many of the girls have already opted out of the track that they would need to prepare for engineering – heavy math and science,” said Dr. Beth Todd, associate professor of mechanical engineering and adviser to UA SWE.

This event was made possible by a Program Development Grant with the Society of Women Engineers through a generous donation from the ExxonMobil Foundation.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.