Asee peer logo

Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Welding and Machining Day: Women’s Confidence with Individual Hands-On Manufacturing

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Student Division Diversity and Persistence Related Technical Session

Tagged Division


Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Stacy Lynn Mann Kettering University

visit author page

Stacy Mann is a second degree senior level student at Kettering University and creator of the April 2016 SWE Machining and Welding Day. She received a bachelor of arts with honor and highest distinction in 2011 from the University of Michigan in Anthropology and Asian Studies with a concentration in Chinese Studies. She is now pursuing a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.

visit author page


Diane L. Peters Kettering University

visit author page

Dr. Peters is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University. Dr. Peters is the Faculty Advisor to the SWE collegiate sections at Kettering University.

visit author page


Rebecca Marie Reck Kettering University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Rebecca M. Reck is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. She completed her Ph.D. in systems engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University during her eight years at Rockwell Collins and her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with a mathematics minor, from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2005. Her research interests include controls, signal processing, and engineering education. Specific areas of controls and signal processing research include the design and modeling of intelligent controls, Kalman filters, and automation. Engineering education research includes curriculum and laboratory development for these concepts.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Many studies suggest that teamwork in hands-on manufacturing is beneficial to learning soft skills and manufacturing minded thinking for college level engineering students. Studies also show that a confidence gap exists between men and women in engineering in hands-on and “tinkering” abilities. In classroom exercises involving hands-on tasks, men often step up in groups to perform tasks such as machining and, due to a lack of ability and/or lack of confidence, many women step back and let the men take over. All-female group projects have been devised to study the benefits women can gain from hands-on experience in a variety of tasks from a Mini-Baja team to coding workshops. While those past projects had a focus on group work, this project revolves around individual tasks in order to get female STEM students comfortable with hands-on manufacturing processes. The focus on individual work rather than group work was intended to push participants outside of their comfort zones, give them a greater sense of confidence in their own skills, and evaluate the benefits of individualized hands-on learning.

With funding from the Dean of Students and the Women Resource Center of Kettering University, and help from technicians in the Mechanical and Industrial Manufacturing Engineering departments, twelve students participated in one of two manufacturing activities: MIG welding or lathe/mill machining. All planning, evaluation, and analysis for this project were performed by an undergraduate student. The six students in the MIG welding group had hands-on training from university technicians on MIG welding and air and electric power tools. They applied their newly-learned metal shaping and joining skills to a design project utilizing horseshoes to create projects from useful wall-hooks to geometric designs. The other six women in the machining group each machined their own bolt and nut from raw round aluminum stock. The participants had a unique opportunity to perform the manufacturing processes, encouraging a level of comfort and knowledge of manufacturing techniques and a unique appreciation of modern automated manufacturing.

The outcomes of this project were evaluated by a survey in which the participants assessed the value, engagement, content, benefit, and quality of the event on an agree/no opinion/disagree scale followed by several free response questions. The evaluation had no personal identifiers, but the organizer noted their grade level to see if the participants’ current knowledge base and experiences had an effect on their outcomes. All of the participants enjoyed the event and rated us favorable across all categories. In the free response section, students talked about a growth in confidence, wanting more events like this, and enjoying being able to create on their own with minimal help from technicians. This paper will hopefully help universities create similar programs, and push for exploration of individual projects in creating confidence.

Mann, S. L., & Peters, D. L., & Reck, R. M. (2017, June), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Welding and Machining Day: Women’s Confidence with Individual Hands-On Manufacturing Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28830

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: © 2017 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