Penn State Behrend hosts GE Girls STEM camp

July 07, 2016

ERIE, Pa. — Seventh-grader Olivia Jaworski is hopeful that a career in medicine awaits her, but until last week, she had not considered any other options.

“I always thought about the medical fields, but then I came here, and I really kind of like the engineering. I think that’s maybe what I’d like to do,” said Jaworski, who attends school in the Corry Area School District. “At a young age, you don’t know what you’re going to do yet, so it’s fun to come here and try things, so you can experience all different types of careers.”

Jaworski was one of 50 seventh and eighth grade female students who attended GE Girls @ Penn State Behrend during the week of June 20-24. The program — one of just 11 in the nation — is a weeklong science, technology, engineering and math camp held on campus. Attendees are paired with female mentors from GE Transportation. Other women — GE engineers and faculty members from Penn State Behrend — lead classroom and lab sessions.

The program goal is for the girls to have the same career takeaway exhibited by Jaworski, but also not be intimidated by the math and science disciplines.

“It gives (students) an understanding of what other fields are out there,” said Kathleen Applebee, an operations project leader at GE Transportation and the facilitator of the Wind Energy session. “So today, for instance, we will be making wind turbines. It shows them that wind can make electricity, and that’s something they may not have thought about or realized before today.”

During the Wind Energy workshop, the students built and then tested wind turbines. Attendees also learned about packaging and logistics, built robots, experimented with computer-aided design using Autodesk software and got a close-up look at Penn State Behrend’s 10,500-square-foot plastics processing lab.

Sarah Kegerreis, an eighth-grader in the Iroquois School District, enjoyed learning how to solder.

“I really, really liked the soldering,” Kegerreis said. “I think this camp has been a good experience. You know what you have interests in, but at this camp you learn what you can do with those interests.”

“Engineering is almost always a foreign concept for kids, and this week is about educating the girls so they will hopefully look at the world differently,” said Melanie Ford, lecturer in computer science and software engineering and director of Youth Education Outreach at Penn State Behrend. “Engineers impact our world almost every minute of every day. We want students to know that everything — the school they attend, their parents’ car, the pen they write with — is in some way affected by engineers. It’s an added bonus that they spent the week meeting so many inspiring female engineers.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 07, 2016