FLAME Project introduces girls to mechanical engineering
Two dozen high school girls spent a Saturday at MSOE to learn more about the field of mechanical engineering. They toured MSOE’s laboratories and heard from faculty and students about the different career opportunities that are available to mechanical engineers.
It was all part of the new FLAME Project (Female Leaders Advocating for Mechanical Engineering) at MSOE. Of the 303,000 mechanical engineers in the United States, only 8.8 percent are female. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Women in the Labor Force). Thanks to an anonymous donor, MSOE was able to offer the FLAME Project to engage young female students in on-campus activities to expose them to the field and encourage them to pursue an education in mechanical engineering.
The students also had the opportunity to put their own skills to the test in a team-based engineering challenge. They designed and built self-propelled cars using common household items such as a mousetrap, CDs, string and paint sticks. Many of them reported that the design challenge was their favorite part of the day. In a post-event survey, 81 percent of the participants indicated they planned to study engineering in college, and 43 percent plan to study mechanical engineering specifically.
The project was led by MSOE’s student chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Society for Women Engineers (SWE).
While the on-campus workshop is complete, the enthusiasm will carry forward. Ten of the participants are planning to replicate the same design challenge at their respective middle schools so that even younger female students have the opportunity to learn about mechanical engineering.
In addition, members of ASME and SWE will visit Notre Dame Middle School in Milwaukee to inspire young female students and engage them in the design challenge on April 24.