Three years ago, Samantha Hoover was one of two dozen high school girls who spent the day on campus learning about mechanical engineering through the FLAME (Female Leaders Advocating for Mechanical Engineering) Project. As part of the new program, Hoover toured laboratories, heard from faculty about different mechanical engineering careers, and teamed-up with other girls to build a self-propelled “car” out of common household items.

Now a sophomore mechanical engineering major at MSOE and president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering student chapter, Hoover has gone from mentee to mentor, organizing the third annual FLAME event for other young girls who want to learn more about mechanical engineering. FLAME is one of several outreach opportunities ASME and the Society of Women Engineers student chapters organize throughout the year.

“FLAME had a big impact on me when I was in high school,” she said. “Being on the other side of that as an event organizer is an amazing feeling.”

Hoover has always been interested in engineering. Mechanical engineering specifically appealed to her because of its breadth. “I wanted the option of trying different areas—robotics, automotive or HVAC,” she said.

Attending the FLAME Project as a Muskego High School senior helped solidify her interest.

“I wanted to be confident that I was making the right choice in what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said. “FLAME gave me that confidence.”

As an event organizer, Hoover sees even more value in the FLAME Project.  “Depending on the type of student attending—they will get different things out of it,” she said. “For some it’s an exploration of mechanical engineering, for others it can help clarify what the field of mechanical engineering encompasses.”

The impact of faculty and volunteers who participate in the event cannot be overstated, Hoover said. “They could be responsible for sparking something in one of the attendees that could change her future and awaken a passion for mechanical engineering,” Hoover said.

FLAME attendance has been growing steadily since its debut, and this year marked the largest number of participants yet. “This year we had some faculty members for the Milwaukee School of Excellence joined in on the event so they could understand what we do,” she said. “Talking with them they all seemed to love the idea and they wanted to bring more girls to experience this event. That makes me really proud.”