Asee peer logo

Ten Years Of Steps Success: Significant Impact In Attracting Girls To Science, Technology, And Engineering Careers

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Potpourri Session

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1384.1 - 12.1384.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Danny Bee University of Wisconsin-Stout

visit author page

DANNY J. BEE is an Assistant Professor of Manufacturing Engineering since 1995 and the former Program Director for Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has design/manufacturing experience in the aerospace and computer industries. In addition, he worked as a Quality Specialist in the Janesville/Beloit, WI region at Blackhawk Technical College. He is currently a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, developing research in the area of environmentally responsible design and manufacturing.

visit author page


Brenda Puck University of Wisconsin, Stout

visit author page

BRENDA S. PUCK is a lecturer in the Technology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She teaches a variety of courses in support of the Technology Education and Engineering Technology programs. She received her M.S. in Technology Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She has been on the “STEPS for Girls” faculty since the programs inception and will become the “STEPS for Girls” Camp Executive Director in the future.

visit author page


Peter Heimdahl University of Wisconsin-Stout

visit author page

DR. PETER D. HEIMDAHL is the “STEPS for Girls” Camp Executive Director and Associate Dean of the College of Technology, Engineering, and Management. He joined the UW-Stout faculty in 1992 after retiring from the U. S. Army in the rank of Brigadier General. Sixteen years of his military career were spent on the faculty of the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, where he ultimately held the position of Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanics and later the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Heimdahl’s undergraduate degree is from the United States Military Academy. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Illinois.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Ten Years of STEPS Success: Significant Impact in Attracting Girls to Science, Technology, and Engineering Careers


The Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer Camp for Girls (STEPS for Girls) is a one-week summer camp initiated on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the summer of 1997. The purpose of STEPS is to introduce young women to career opportunities in engineering, technology, and science and inspire them to prepare for these careers by selection of appropriate math and science courses in middle and high school. With the completion of the 10th year camp in 2006, 1600 young women have manufactured the components for and assembled their own radio-controlled model airplanes. A recent survey of early STEPS campers has revealed this summer camp has made significant impacts on their career pursuits. A young woman attending STEPS is 9.6 times more likely to pursue an engineering or technology degree and is 4.8 times more likely to pursue a natural science degree than her contemporaries. Inspired by the success of STEPS for Girls, the University created an Advanced STEPS camp for tenth grade girls during the summer of 2006. This paper will present the complete findings of the follow-up surveys administered to the first three years of STEPS campers and briefly outline the new Advanced STEPS camp. In addition to the significant impact in career pursuit, STEPS campers also indicate a greatly enhanced appreciation for impacts of technology within their non-engineering, technological or natural science pursuits.

Introduction to Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camp

In 1997, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, in partnership with the Society of Manufacturing Engineering Education Foundation (SME-EF), initiated an outreach program for girls entering the seventh grade. “STEPS for Girls” is a one-week introduction to the world of manufacturing. For ten years, the girls have manufactured radio-controlled model airplanes from raw materials. The components are fabricated in various laboratory activities using real production equipment. Each girl has an opportunity to fly her airplane with the assistance of skilled radio-controlled aircraft pilots. “STEPS for Girls” campers gain direct hands-on experience in math, physics, chemistry, packaging, computer aided design, rapid prototyping, computer aided manufacturing, CNC machining, metals casting, plastics processing, robotics, web-page development, and printing.1

Industry, University, and SME-EF support are keys to the success of this program. Initially free to all campers, the camp now charges a nominal $325 fee for the week of activities. The seventh grade outreach program, which completed its tenth camping summer in 2006, now has 1600 female graduates. Twenty-five percent (25%) of campers receive donor supported scholarships du to low income status. On August 2, 2006, STEPS celebrated its tenth anniversary with a gala day of activities and events.

STEPS for Girls – A Brief Overview

STEPS for Girls was designed to be an intense immersion set of activities that provides technical (process and production systems), developmental (personal development and leadership), and recreational experiences. From arrival of the campers on Sunday afternoon until departure on

Bee, D., & Puck, B., & Heimdahl, P. (2007, June), Ten Years Of Steps Success: Significant Impact In Attracting Girls To Science, Technology, And Engineering Careers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2982

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: © 2007 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