Camp encourages gender diversity in engineering
Eli Hull, The Oklahoma Daily
The four future engineers had just been given a task of deciding which materials are needed, developing a workspace and drawing a diagram. After the thought process was over, it was finally time to put their plan into action.
The girls lined up into their assembly line, waiting for their cue to begin. One by one, they used their plans to load scoops after scoops of ice cream into bowls, cut bananas, scatter various treats on top and finally drizzle chocolate syrup to finish it off. Their ending time was accurate with what they had guessed. They had just designed a quick and easy way to produce an average of 40 banana splits per hour, while thinking as industrial engineers.
The Discovering Engineering Via Adventure in Science, or DEVAS, camp brought 16 high school girls to the OU campus Monday for a weeklong engineering experience. Because the engineering field has more men than women, the OU College of Engineering hosts an all-girl engineering camp to inspire girls to become involved in the field.
The camp focused on introducing the girls to the many areas of engineering such as industrial, civil and aerospace and mechanical fields. The girls attended sessions with some of the college’s top professors, all with the goal of inspiring the girls to step into the male-dominated field.
They also had the opportunity to hear women, such as Amy Wright, manager of engineering technology for Williams Companies, share their experiences and advice on being a woman in the field.
Randa Shehab, director of industrial engineering, created the banana split session and has used it at the camp for the past four years. Shehab said the activity introduces the girls to process improvement, which is what industrial engineering is about. The session was designed to engage the girls by taking a fun approach, said Shehab, who agrees the engineering field lacks gender diversity.
“It is critical that we provide all students with an understanding of their career options such that they can make an informed decision about their future,” Shehab said.
After the session, each girl smiled while eating her banana split. Micah Dunkleberger, DEVAS camper, said she believed the activity helped her understand industrial engineering better.
“I learned it’s about improving the process of everyday things so people can enjoy them,” Dunkleberger said.
For DEVAS camper Laura Morton the activity proved that girls can come up with a design and it can be just as good as a boy’s.
“Women deserve to be put forth just as men are. It definitely shows women are just as equal as men.”
Morton said she thinks the camp was positive, helpful and a career changing experience.