Nitsch Engineering, a Boston-based engineering firm, hosted its 11th annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on March 14th, with support from Consigli Construction, WSP FLACK + KURTZ, Engineers Design Group, GEI Consultants, and the Dedham Public Schools. Titled Engineering in School Buildings, this year’s program educated 148 6th to 12th grade girls – the highest number of attendees in event history – about the different types of engineering that go into planning and designing a new school. The event was hosted at the newly completed, but not yet occupied, Avery Elementary School in Dedham, Mass. (a Nitsch Engineering project).
“After years of growth, the percentage of female U.S. engineers has stalled at just 10.7% – nowhere near the parity that we believe can be achieved,” says Nitsch Engineering Founding Principal Judith Nitsch, PE, LEED AP BD+C. “We hope that by demonstrating that engineering is fun, more girls – as well as their parents and teachers – will realize that engineering can be a very rewarding career.”
The day began with the opportunity for the girls to design their own school building site by sketching their ideas about where utilities, parking lots, sidewalks, and athletic fields should go around a proposed school building. The girls then listened to two short presentations: Ms. Nitsch provided an overview of some of the reasons to consider a career in engineering, while Ms. Jennifer Rand from Consigli Construction showed a photo timeline of the Avery School construction process from the ground up. Following these presentations, the girls were split into seven groups and toured the new school with stops at civil, HVAC, plumbing/fire protection, transportation, structural, geotechnical, and site (athletic field) engineering stations. Each station had a brief hands-on activity that helped the girls see the connection between the engineering design plans, construction activities, and the finished school. Meanwhile, the parents and teachers who accompanied the girls attended a seminar on the college admissions and financial aid process led by Martha Savery from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, and Kristin Tichenor, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Institutional Strategy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The day culminated with a lunch panel discussion about working as an engineer. Moderated by Jennifer Johnson, PE, LEED AP BD+C, a Project Engineer at Nitsch Engineering, the panel included perspectives from seven female engineers: Laureen Beintum, PE, Geotechnical Project Manager at GEI Consultants; Christine Breen, EIT, LEED, Transportation Project Designer at Nitsch Engineering; Lee Fluhr, Structural Engineer at Engineers Design Group; Nancy Gould, PE, LEED AP, Fire Protection Engineer at WSP FLACK + KURTZ; Caroline McManus, EIT, LEED, Civil Project Designer at Nitsch Engineering; Leanne Muscarella, BIM Specialist and HVAC Engineer at WSP FLACK + KURTZ; and Jennifer Rand, Construction Project Manager, Consigli Construction.
About Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day
Started by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and IBM in 2001, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day aims to increase interest in math and science among girls. Now organized by the National Engineers Week Foundation (http://www.eweek.org), Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day has become a global event, reaching over one million young women each year.