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Girls Reaching And Demonstrating Excellence (G.R.A.D.E.) Camps: An Innovative Recruiting Strategy At The University Of Houston To Increase Female Representation In Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

K-12 Programs for Women

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.668.1 - 10.668.10



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Paper Authors

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John Glover

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Frank Claydon

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Stuart Long

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Jennifer Ruchhoeft

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Julie Trenor

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence (GRADE) Camps: An Innovative Recruiting Strategy at the University of Houston to Increase Female Representation in Engineering

John R. Glover, Jennifer L. Ruchhoeft, Julie Martin Trenor, Stuart A. Long, and Frank J. Claydon

University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


The University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering hosts GRADE (Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence) Camps through grants from the National Science Foundation and the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium. This innovative weeklong summer day camp is designed to introduce ninth through twelfth grade high school females to the marvels of engineering.

Program content is comprised of electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering topics, such as electricity and magnetism, motors and generators, and control systems, all of which are necessary for the girls to design, build, and program a Lego robot to autonomously maneuver through a maze. Multidisciplinary engineering faculty and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) undergraduate and graduate mentors guide the girls through the curriculum and help them develop problem solving and teamwork skills. Through these exercises, the girls develop a working knowledge of fundamental engineering concepts involved in building the robot and discover the fun of creating a working design. The girls interact with local female engineers, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students throughout the week. Topics of discussion not only include general engineering questions, but also issues specific to females pursuing careers in engineering. At the end of camp, the girls present what they learned and demonstrate their robots to their parents, teachers, and peer participants.

To date, over 125 girls representing a broad spectrum of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds have completed the program. To provide continued support, guidance, and contact with other GRADE campers, faculty and guests throughout the girls’ academic careers, all GRADE Camp participants are encouraged to use a dedicated and secure GRADE Camp Communities of Practice website. Efforts are ongoing to track GRADE camp participants through their college years.

Program Rationale

The continuation of the technology explosion into the 21st century necessitates the availability of a diverse and highly capable, technical workforce. The formation of a diverse workforce depends on active recruitment of women and minorities (both historically

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Glover, J., & Claydon, F., & Long, S., & Ruchhoeft, J., & Trenor, J. (2005, June), Girls Reaching And Demonstrating Excellence (G.R.A.D.E.) Camps: An Innovative Recruiting Strategy At The University Of Houston To Increase Female Representation In Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15256

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