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ECE-GIRLS: High School Girls Explore Electrical and Computer Engineering Program

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session - Pre-college Programs for Women

Tagged Divisions

Women in Engineering and Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Na Gong North Dakota State University

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Dr. Na Gong is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Dakota State University. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science & Engineering from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York in 2013. Dr. Gong's research interests lie in VLSI and embedded system, with an emphasis on intelligent energy-efficient data storage system. Dr. Gong has been an Associate Editor for Microelectronics Journal, Journal of Circuits, Systems, and Computers, and Mobile Computing. She has also served as track chair for IEEE International SoC Conference 2014. She has also served in technical program committees for a number of IEEE and other international conferences. Dr. Gong received 2014 NDSU Development Board of Trustee Endowment award and 2014 NDSU Centennial Endowment award.

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Jinhui Wang North Dakota State University

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Dr. Jinhui Wang has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Dakota State University (NDSU), since Aug. 2014. His research
interests include low-power, high-performance, and variation-tolerant integrated circuit design,
3D IC and EDA methodologies, and thermal issue solution in VLSI. He has more than 80 publications and 6 patents in the emerging semiconductor technologies.Dr. Wang has been with the editorial board of Microelectronics Journal, and served as the associate editor of Journal of Circuits, Systems and Computers. He has also served as the track chair for IEEE International SoC Conference 2014 (SoCC2014), the technical program committees for IEEE international conferences, including IEEE International SoC Conference 2016 (SoCC2016), 2015 (SoCC2015), 2014 (SoCC2014), 2013 (SoCC2013), 2012 (SoCC2012), IEEE International Conference on Solid-State and Integrated Circuit Technology 2016 (ICSICT2016), 2014 (ICSICT2014), IEEE International Symposium on Embedded Multicore/Many-core Systems-on-Chip 2016 (MCSoC16), 2015 (MCSoC15), and IEEE 11th International Conference on ASIC (ASICON2015).

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The Girls Explore Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE-GIRLS) was a three-day program which aimed to introduce high school female students to the attractive fields of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), instill girls’ interest in ECE, and to increase the number of high school female graduates majoring in this field.

1. Motivation Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs have seen a steep increase in recruitment and employment of women during the past three decades. While impressive gains have been made in mathematics, biology, and chemistry, women are still far less likely than men to major in ECE. According to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), ECE has the largest gender gaps among all engineering field. The percentage of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to women is only 12.7% in ECE compared to 32.9% in chemical engineering, 39.2% in biomedical engineering, and 45.5% in environmental engineering [1]. Similar to this national trend, the current percentage of female undergraduate students in the author’s department is less than 10% (45 out of 454). The author is also the only one female faculty (out of eighteen faculty members) in her department.

In contrast to this gender imbalance issue, the ECE job market is very strong and is expected to increase within the next ten years. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, the number of Electrical Engineers and Computer Engineers in employment was 389,400 in 2012, making up the largest branch of engineering [2][3]. Accordingly, the author organized ECE-GIRLS to attract more female students into ECE programs, developing a more diverse workforce.

2. Program Activities and Evaluation Seven female high school students were selected to participate in ECE-GIRLS. To reach the economically disadvantaged students, no participation fee were required. A variety of activities were incorporated, exposing girls to ECE hands-on experiences and role models. Specifically, girls participated in the following activities: (1) attending a lecture on ECE from the department chair; (2) meeting female professors in engineering; (3) touring research laboratories in ECE; (4) touring university facilities on ECE; (5) meeting ECE female undergraduate and graduate Students; (6) meeting women in engineers (WIE) members; (7) working on group projects and giving presentations.

To evaluate the program, student surveys were conducted at the beginning and the end of the program. Issues addressed in the surveys included: (1) student motivation, (2) have an understanding of ECE topics and technologies, (3) interest to pursue ECE degree in college, (4) interest in ECE careers, 5) effectiveness of ECE-GIRLS, and (6) support provided by faculty and graduate student mentors. Items (1)–(4) were surveyed at both the start and the end of the program to determine if ECE-GIRLS met the goal of improving student interest and increasing their self-confidence in scientific ability. Issues (5) and (6) were surveyed at the end of the program. The participants rated the ECE-GIRLS favorably. All of them agreed that ECE-GIRLS helped them have a better understanding of ECE topics, increase their self-confidence in scientific ability, and they had greater interest in ECE careers. Reference [1] B. L. Yoder, “Engineering By the Numbers,” 2012, [Available Online] [2] Electrical and Electronics Engineers. [Available Online] [3] Computer Hardware Engineers. [Available Online]

Gong, N., & Wang, J. (2016, June), ECE-GIRLS: High School Girls Explore Electrical and Computer Engineering Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26883

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