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Summer Technology And Engineering Program: An Outreach Program Benefiting Women Engineering Students From Middle School Through Graduate School

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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

Women in K-12 Engineeering & Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1147.1 - 15.1147.53



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Paper Authors

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Shannon Ciston University of New Haven

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Ellen Worsdall Northwestern University

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Jessica Swenson Northwestern University

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

Summer Technology and Engineering Program: An outreach program benefitting women engineering students from middle school through graduate school


The Summer Technology and Engineering Program (STEP) is hosted by the Society of Women Engineers student chapter at Northwestern University, and invites girls in 7th and 8th grade to explore engineering disciplines and envision themselves as future engineers. The participants work closely with undergraduate and graduate student mentors from engineering to do hands-on activities from across multiple engineering disciplines. This experience results in positive outcomes for women students involved at all levels. Girls find supportive role models in the SWE women, and mentoring relationships have developed. This presentation will describe the program, and discuss results of post-program surveys of middle school, undergraduate, and graduate students to show the impacts of the program on these various groups, and to provide a model for similar programs.

The History of STEP:

At Northwestern University, the undergraduate chapter of the Society of Women Engineers hosts Career Day for Girls, a one-day event for girls in grades 7-12 to get girls excited about science, engineering, and technology. Through laboratory demonstrations, interactive multimedia lectures, and hands-on activities, girls meet positive role models (both female and male) and get to think about the possibilities they have for careers in the technical fields.

Many Career Day participants and their parents expressed a need for a multiple-day program held over the summer--a kind of engineering day camp for girls to get more information and experience with engineering, and to form relationships with female engineer role models. Undergraduate members of the Society of Women Engineers at Northwestern University therefore went about designing such a program: Summer Technology and Engineering Program (STEP) for Girls, which had its first session in summer 2008, and was followed by a session in 2009. Each of these sessions included about 20 girls.

Program Objectives:

To introduce middle school-aged girls to the engineering process

To instill in girls a sense of their own potential to be successful engineers

To show girls what an engineering graduate can do, and to demonstrate the value of that career path

To encourage girls to explore a career in engineering

Ciston, S., & Worsdall, E., & Swenson, J. (2010, June), Summer Technology And Engineering Program: An Outreach Program Benefiting Women Engineering Students From Middle School Through Graduate School Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16378

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