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Northeast Meets Northwest Women In Technology Project

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.879.1 - 8.879.5



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Nicole Hoekstra

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

Session Number 2793

Northeast Meets Northwest Women in Technology Project

Nicole Hoekstra Engineering Technology Department Western Washington University


The “Northeast Meets Northwest Women in Technology Project” encourages young women to consider careers in technology and engineering by direct exposure to a complex problem in industry. The project partnered women in high school from Washington and Massachusetts, high school teachers, an engineer from Texas Instruments, and an engineering advisor from Western Washington University. The students’ objective was to solve an on-going problem for Texas Instruments at one of their manufacturing facilities. The students used concurrent engineering practices to understand the manufacturing problem. The students successfully designed, built, and tested a prototype inspection device. This device is currently used on the Texas Instruments assembly line to check for the presence of internal and external threads on four different plastic and metal assemblies. This device ensures that assemblies that do not have threads do not continue onto further, expensive processes, only to be scrapped by the final quality check. The problem-based learning project created an opportunity for students on the team to investigate engineering as a career option.


According to the 2000 U.S. Census, women represented just 26 percent of the science, math, and engineering work force, even though women comprise 47 percent of the total work force.1 Most women who work in science are in the areas of life, physical, and social sciences (41 percent). In contrast, women have much lower representation in engineering, approximately 8 percent.2 Clearly more women need to be encouraged to enter science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The Women in Technology (WIT) program is an ongoing program started by Bristol Community College in Massachusetts. The purpose of the program is to encourage young women to student STEM fields as opportunities for careers in these fields. There were four different WIT projects occurring simultaneously during the 2001-2002 academic year. The “Northeast meets Northwest Women in Technology” outreach project was a problem-based learning activity designed to give high school women who had high proficiencies and interest in science, technology, and math an opportunity to explore engineering as a career. The project created an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in design engineering by solving an open-ended problem that was provided by Texas Instruments. The team consists of high school students from Washington and Massachusetts schools, while high school faculty and engineers from industry served as coaches and advisors. Texas Instruments has been sponsoring WIT projects since 1996, when an internal survey revealed only 8% of its engineers were women. “Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Hoekstra, N. (2003, June), Northeast Meets Northwest Women In Technology Project Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12046

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