June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Women in Engineering
Twenty-five years ago, the University of Evansville, a small, private liberal arts institution in the Midwest, initiated a hands-on summer camp to encourage high school girls to pursue engineering. UE’s OPTIONS in Engineering camp has evolved into separate week-long residential experiences for high school and middle school girls, as well as a week-long day camp for middle school boys. The engineering camp for high school girls has included an international experience on two occasions. University students act as counselors and mentors, allowing the camp to impact young women at multiple educational stages. Testaments from past participants and counselors depict the experience as inspirational and positively transforming perceptions of STEM. Participants have pursued STEM degrees, including graduate degrees, and worked professionally as engineers after attending the camp.
This paper presents the best practices, challenges, and successes of the camp as it has adapted to new generations of participants and advances in engineering and technology. Originally created to increase the representation of women in engineering, the camp exposes participants to like-minded peers, female college students, faculty, and practicing engineers in order to provide a critical mass of role models and begin developing a professional support network - both of which have been shown to improve retention and self-efficacy of women in STEM fields.
The university assesses learning outcomes via a pre-test and post-test covering topics within various engineering disciplines. Participants are asked to provide both qualitative and quantitative feedback regarding the camp experience in an exit survey on the final day of camp. All assessment is completed anonymously; however, archival data are not available for each year. This paper highlights qualitative and quantitative findings from the past decade.
Lofton, J. J. (2017, June), Encouraging Young Women to Pursue Engineering: 25 Years of Summer Camp Successes and Challenges Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28222
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