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Inspiring girls to pursue STEM (ages three to thirteen): a recipe for a successful outreach event

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Technical Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jodi F. Prosise St. Ambrose University

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Jodi Prosise is Chair of Engineering and Physics and an Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at University of Minnesota and her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. She teaches courses in both Industrial and Mechanical Engineering at SAU, focusing in Engineering Graphics, Manufacturing, the Engineering Sciences, and Design. She was recently the PI of an NSF S-STEM grant to recruit rural students from Iowa and Illinois into STEM. Dr. Prosise mentors the collegiate chapter of SWE and organizes many outreach events encourage girls to go into STEM. She leads a study-abroad trip for engineering students to Brazil every-other-year, where students design, build, and implement assistive technologies for people with disabilities. Her research focus is to develop affordable upper limb prosthetics.

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R R Romatoski Saint Ambrose University Orcid 16x16


Susa H Stonedahl St. Ambrose University

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Susa Hardwick Stonedahl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics at St. Ambrose University. She received her BA in Mathematics and Physics from Carleton College and her MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering and Sciences from Northwestern University. She teaches college and university physics courses. She is the faculty advisor to the St. Ambrose Women in Science and Engineering club, president of the Quad Cities’ Sigma Xi chapter, and assistant director of the St. Ambrose undergraduate research program. Her primary research focusses on modeling and visualizing hyporheic water flow. Website:

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Yunye Shi Shi St. Ambrose University

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Yunye Shi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She received her PHD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa and her BS in Power and Energy Engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. She teaches mechanical engineering courses including thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, measurement and instrumentation, and capstone design courses. Her research interest includes biomass and MSW gasification, and economic analysis of thermo-chemical conversion paths.

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To most it would seem that the U.S. (and the world) has improved leaps and bounds in their view of women in the workforce, yet representation of women in STEM remains low (only up 5% since 1993). In engineering specifically, women only make up 13% of the workforce (up from 9% in 1990). Gender stereotypes persist today, even after decades of campaigns to change that. It is critical that girls are shown at an early age that women can be engineers and scientists. This will help them combat false stereotypes and remove obstacles between them and a career in these fields. To this end, we have developed a highly successful outreach program that focuses on showing elementary and middle school-aged girls how fun and exciting a career in STEM can be. Hands-on activities emphasize creativity and allow girls to explore STEM without being judged, worrying about what grade they might receive, or dealing the potentially inhibitory or suppressive presence of boys. The activities are designed to leverage girls’ existing interests by showing how STEM fields require creativity, can improve lives, or can make the world a better place. Over one-thousand girls between the ages of 3 and 13 have participated in the last three years, and feedback demonstrates that the event has been successful at getting girls interested in engineering. This paper will detail how to plan and implement a successful event to interest young girls in engineering utilizing industry partners, student organizations, and fun girls-only activities.

Prosise, J. F., & Romatoski, R. R., & Stonedahl, S. H., & Shi, Y. (2018, June), Inspiring girls to pursue STEM (ages three to thirteen): a recipe for a successful outreach event Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30672

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