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Using Sports to Attract Young Women into Engineering

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Outreach to K-12 Females

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1339.1 - 23.1339.9

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Paper Authors


Jani M Pallis Cislunar Aerospace, Inc.

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Dr. Jani Macari Pallis received her Ph.D. concentrating in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of California, Davis. She has a master’s from the University of California, Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s and bachelor degree in Health Systems from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is an associate professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport. She has over 30 years of industry experience working at United Airlines and as the CEO of Cislunar Aerospace, Inc, a small engineering firm she founded while a graduate student.

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Jill L McNitt-Gray University of Southern California

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Dr. McNitt-Gray is a professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California and is the director of the USC Biomechanics Research Lab. She and her interdisciplinary research team study the control and dynamics of movement during physically-demanding goal-directed tasks using an integrated experimental and dynamic modeling approach. She is a USC Mellon Mentor and is currently the chair of the Dornsife Women in Science and Engineering Committee and a member of the USC STEM Consortium Steering Committee. Dr. McNitt-Gray is also a past president of the American Society of Biomechanics.

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Using Sports to Attract Young Women into EngineeringEngineering, science and technology are used extensively in sports - from equipment design,increasing athletic performance, safety, health benefits and enjoyment, to preventing injury andassuring equity and longevity in sports. Yet for some individuals, sports and recreation may beassociated with the word “fun”, while science, math and engineering may be equated with thewords “hard” or “difficult”. Get SSET (Sport Science, Engineering and Technology) was firstdeveloped in 2003 as an innovative week-long summer residential sports engineering academyfor girls entering grades 9 through 11. The academy has been conducted at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University and the University of San Diego.The academy focuses on empowering female students with technical skills and success strategiesthrough exciting sports STEM lectures and hands-on activities in a gender-neutral environment.A key component of the program is that instructors are university faculty and/or professionals insports science, engineering or math. The on-campus environment is used as a stimulus to excitestudents about college/university education and an engineering, science, math or technologyrelated career.The presentation and paper will cover best practices developed over the past nine years,including academy logistics (funding, costs, “after-hour” classroom engagement, studentselection criteria, academy schedule of activities) and share the variety of classroom content thathas been used. For example, past academies have included design methodology for an equestriansaddle for a paraplegic, athletic footwear design for a triathlete, and wind tunnel testing ofstudent redesigned cycling helmets for drag reduction. Additionally, a summary of studentlongitudinal tracking, student evaluations and parent surveys (conducted 2-4 months after theacademy) will be provided.In sports engineering it is critical to understand and embrace physiological differencesthroughout the human life cycle (age), for both genders and for varying physical abilities anddisabilities. This theme has been used throughout the academy to emphasize that understandingdiversity is critical in obtaining good sports engineering solutions.

Pallis, J. M., & McNitt-Gray, J. L. (2013, June), Using Sports to Attract Young Women into Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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