150 San Diego girls get hands-on engineering training

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SAN DIEGO – Nearly 150 eighth grade San Diego girls spent the day learning about engineering as part of an outreach program meant to expose young women to the industry.

“If you go past 12-years-old they are gone already and it takes much more effort to get them back,” said Mary Isaac with the Society of Women Engineers.

According to the group, entry-level engineering jobs pay roughly $50,000 a year yet less than 15% of engineers are women.

“If we’re not tapping into 50% of the population we’re missing something,” said Isaac.

All female eighth graders from Wangenheim Middle School and Mira Mesa high school participated in the daylong training session. As part of the program, they learned how to create electricity using a battery and wires.

“I learned I could make electricity, its not that hard,” said student Olivia Hernandez. “I never really gave it much thought to how it was done. I thought it was just plunging stuff in but I never knew you could create it. I find it fascinating.”

The girls were given materials, directions and advised to continue trying until they succeeded.

“It teaches me not to give up and that there are going to be difficult situations in life that I will have to deal with,” said Esma Guerrera from Wangenheim Middl School.

According to the Society of Women Engineers majority of young women major in language arts related careers despite being good in math and science.

“We also want to take out the perception out that they need straight A’s to be in engineering,” said Isaac.

The second task for the girls involved building a tower using only gumdrops and tooth picks.

“We’re trying to do a square or base first so it can sustain a candy bar,” said student Sophina Tomas. “I think teamwork is hard to do sometimes because people don’t always agree with each other but it could also work because people get to tell their ideas.”

The hands-on training day event has been taking place for several years and is made possible through a grant from Exxon mobile.

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