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Girls, Solidworks, Robots, And Mouse Trap Cars…. Oh My

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Gender and Minority Issues in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.617.1 - 15.617.10



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Christie Loyola Marymount University

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

Girls, SolidWorks, Robots, and Mouse Trap Cars…OH MY


Generation Y, Millennial Generation, or Generation Next are terms used to describe the demographic cohort born in the early 1990s. Although their titles of Generation Y or Generation Next mean they are following Generation X, this group of students currently in high school, have their own unique style and are not to be underestimated or underrated. Given a challenge, they will rise up to master whatever is requested of them. As the director of a community outreach program for the past nine years, nothing has been more fulfilling than to observe the incredible strength of the young women of Generation Y.

In 2001, after receiving seed money from the Honda Foundation, the College of Science and Engineering developed a community outreach program with the goal of increasing the pipeline of girls and underrepresented minorities studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the college level. To accomplish this goal, we started the Science and Engineering Community Outreach Program (SECOP). SECOP is a two-week residential pre-college summer school program with a focus on science and engineering. Each morning during the Program, an engineering and mathematics faculty provide a similar curriculum taught in Engineering 101 and Pre-calculus college courses. The afternoon classes are project-oriented. Students design mousetrap cars using SolidWorks, and build their cars in the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory. At night, students work on group projects that include designing and building robots using LEGO Mindstorms NXT. To recruit students, we created a partnership between our College and five different academic enrichment programs in Southern California. By working with community organizations, we have reached highly motivated students who have a strong aptitude for science and mathematics. Since 2001, 203 students from 66 different high schools in the Greater Los Angeles Area have participated in SECOP. Of these students, 117 have been female (58%), and the outcomes for the girls who participated in SECOP have been outstanding. We have collected data on the alumni who have graduated high school by contacting them over the phone and searching for them on Facebook. Of the female students who attended SECOP and now have graduated from high school, 100% have or are attending college. Sixty-six percent have select STEM majors in college and 34% selected engineering in particular. All of the original SECOP 2001 students have graduated from university, and four of the young women are now professional engineers. This article discusses the methods used to develop a very valuable and meaningful community outreach program that continues to achieve its goal of developing more female engineers from Generation Y.


The Science and Engineering Community Outreach Program (SECOP) is a two-week residential summer school program for students entering their sophomore or junior year in high school who have a strong aptitude and desire to study science, engineering or mathematics. SECOP is a collaborative partnership between our university and different

Christie, B. (2010, June), Girls, Solidworks, Robots, And Mouse Trap Cars…. Oh My Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16736

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