At SOLIDWORKS WORLD yesterday, Bri Pettis stated there were so many “dudes” in the audience. I was fortunate to talk to our SOLIDWORKS Community about the need for us, as a community to support engineering girls. In order to get more women engineers, we first need more girls interested in engineering.
My interview on stage was with Bettina Chen, co-founder of Roominate, a construction toy targeted at girls, starting at age 6, with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, (STEM), creativity, and fun.
On stage, Bettina talked about how she got interested in engineering as a young girl, graduated from Cal Tech as an electrical engineer and while at Stanford, working on her masters in engineering, met co-founder, Alice Brooks, a mechanical engineer from MIT. Releasing there were few female engineers at Stanford, Bettina and Alice shifted their focus to what got them interested in engineering in the first place.
Bettina also talked about her challenges as an engineer and a woman in business. We focused on what the SOLIDWORKS community can do as role models and mentors, encouraging engineering girls and women engineers in business.
I have presented on stage with great student design teams, robots, and student certification. So how did the topic engineering girls come about? The idea actually came last year from SOLIDWORKS customer, Sol Diamond. We met at SOLIDWORKS WORLD San Diego.
Over the years, I met Sol Diamond; Professor from Dartmouth College. We discussed his research and biomedical engineering classes with 30% female graduate students, innovative freshman engineering classes with 28% female undergraduate students, students receiving SolidWorks Certification, and young engineering entrepreneur Shrini and Kristina that took an idea from a product design class and started their own company, Tray Bien.
Last year, in San Diego, we discussed a single topic. Sol asked “Where are the women engineers at SolidWorks World? “ I looked around and noticed Sol was correct. Less than 5% of the attendees were women engineers.
So this year we focused on our Women in Engineering Recognition program, Rachel York, a recipient, has been a user group leader, First Robotics mentor and now an advisory support engineer for our reseller, FisherUnitec. You can nominate a woman who has contributed to the engineering field and her community by applying at www.solidworks.com/WomenInEngineering.
We talked about our new partner, the Fab Foundation and the collaboration started with FAB LABS with their support for women, girls, entrepreneurs and education. At present there are 340 Fab Labs, doubling every 18 months in diverse locations. Sherry Lassiter, director of the Fab Foundation, is leading the development of the Fab lab network, entrepreneurship, and new learning methods. See yesterday’s post.
In the Product showcase, we highlighted the University of Arizona Baja Racing team and Arizona State University EcoCAR3 and ASU’s Air Devils Design Build Fly team. SolidWorks sponsors over 2300 competitive student teams.
FIRST Robotics has over 20% female participation. FIRST is breaking the stereotypes that yes – girls can select Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) careers, work as a team, solve a problem, and communicate. SolidWorks supports 800 robot teams including FRC 3504 Pittsburgh’s Girls of Steel, FRC 1868 Space Cookies Robotics – Girl Scouts of Northern California, & FRC 771 Ontario’s SWAT St Mildred’s Women Advancing Technology.
At SOLIDWORKS WORLD I heard great stories from our customers and resellers. Our Netherlands reseller CADMES helps out FRC 4481 Team Rembrandt’s, mentors FLL robot teams and hosts many robot workshops to help students.
We love to share your stories from our customers,resellers, partners and user group leaders that reach out to these students and are their mentors, making a difference.
For your daughters, sisters, cousins, friends, colleagues, our common goals begin by encouraging engineering girls in STEM fields and to support women engineers in your own field, in your own business, making the SolidWorks Community even stronger for our future. Marie