Asee peer logo

Linking Engineering to Life: Expanding Gender Diversity in STEM Through an Afterschool Program

Download Paper |


2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division (WIED) Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering Division (WIED)

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amber L Doiron University of Vermont Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Amber Doiron is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Vermont. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Colorado State University in 2003, and she was an NSF-IGERT fellow while earning an M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was the T. Chen Fong Postdoctoral Fellow in Medical Imaging in the Departments of Radiology and Chemical Engineering at the University of Calgary. Dr. Doiron also served as the chief scientific officer at NanoPulse Biosciences LLC for four years.

visit author page

author page

Katherine O'Shea


Nicole M Miller Vermont Afterschool, Inc.

visit author page

Nicole is deeply committed to ensuring equal access to third space programming for all Vermont youth. After serving as Vermont Afterschool's assistant director for nearly three years, focused on strengthening programs, statewide quality efforts, and the interconnectedness of the VTA team, Nicole was hired as the organization's executive director. In this role, she spearheads the organization’s work in ways that build partnerships, support programs, empower youth, and transform communities so that all of Vermont’s children and youth have opportunities to be active, engaged, connected, and heard. She is responsible for managing our dynamic team professional staff, developing strategy, and implementing programs that make youth-serving organizations and communities stronger for Vermont’s children, youth, and families. Nicole is also responsible for securing grants and funding opportunities, building ongoing relationships with funders and partners, and leading on our statewide policy efforts. She has more than 16 years of experience in afterschool programming and youth development, serving 10 years as a program director of a rural afterschool program in northeastern Vermont, and five years in providing professional development workshops for other afterschool professionals. She has a BA in Elementary Education from Johnson State College and believes that all youth should have access to high-quality and engaging afterschool programs. In 2014, Nicole was chosen as a Next Generation Leader by the National AfterSchool Association.

visit author page

author page

Tracy L Truzansky

Download Paper |


The vitality and diversity of the STEM workforce is a major concern, owing to the “missing millions” of workers from the underrepresentation of women and historically marginalized communities (2022 US National Science and Engineering Indicators). The pandemic exacerbated disparities, with isolation and limited opportunities for engagement. Linking Engineering to Life (LEL) is a virtual and in-person afterschool experiential engineering curriculum launched in the fall of 2020 by with the aim of overcoming barriers of access and affordability in engineering education for girls and non-binary middle school-aged youth. LEL was created in response to The Million Girls Moonshot, which seeks to re-imagine who can engineer, build, and create by engaging one million more girls in afterschool and summer STEM learning programs over five years. LEL Basics introduces the engineering design process through 8 weeks of engineering challenges while elevating female and non-binary success in STEM. LEL is facilitated by trained undergraduate engineering Mentors and afterschool staff. LEL now also offers a biomedical engineering curriculum created in partnership with . From the initial partnership between and the , LEL has recruited 50 Mentors who lead virtual, in-person, and hybrid format curricula for 178 youth (18.5% BIPOC, 2% non-binary) at urban, suburban, and rural afterschool sites. Through a Cognito Survey, 94% of participants affirmed that they “have a clear understanding of the engineering design process” and “understand who an engineer is and the skills they need”. Additionally, 100% of LEL Mentors reported agreement that LEL “had a positive impact on youth” and “was a valuable experience”, with some reporting increased awareness of engineering education as a potential career path. LEL continues to improve formative and summative assessment of our programming towards overcoming barriers to engineering education.

Doiron, A. L., & O'Shea, K., & Miller, N. M., & Truzansky, T. L. (2023, June), Linking Engineering to Life: Expanding Gender Diversity in STEM Through an Afterschool Program Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43482

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2023 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015