At Berkeley Engineering, we espouse the goal of closing the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. In the College of Engineering 28% of our engineering undergraduates are women–better than the national average. Encouraging diversity among students and faculty in engineering is a top strategic priority. Girls in Engineering is a program designed to grow the next generation of engineering leaders through an experience built on hallmarks of Berkeley Engineering: hands-on, team-based learning; an emphasis on leadership; and engineering in a societal context.
Goals and Objectives
In partnership with our sponsors, Berkeley Engineering has designed the Girls in Engineering program to give middle school girls the opportunity to experience hands-on engineering activities on the Berkeley campus. Taught by Berkeley female faculty, staff, and students, the program promotes leadership skills and inspires confidence in the participants to pursue STEM fields. It also provides girls an opportunity to learn firsthand about the exciting world of engineering!
Girls in Engineering Program Structure
Berkeley’s Girls in Engineering program provides participants with experiences in three areas:
Engineering Leadership via Communication and Team Skills
Excelling in engineering requires both excellent communication skills as well as advanced technical skills. The first part of each day is generally dedicated to learning about the engineering profession, working in teams, and practicing presentation skills. In these modules, students learn more about who they are as individuals, explore strategies for working effectively in groups, and practice their speaking skills. The girls put these strategies into practice after these introductory modules, as they work on their team projects.
Design Innovation via Hands-on Learning
Experiential education and team projects are at the heart of Berkeley Engineering. Working in groups on design projects teaches students to communicate effectively, to work together to solve problems, and to successfully negotiate differences. During these hands-on modules, girls are exposed to a wide range of engineering fields, such as bioengineering, computer science and algorithms, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, and materials engineering. These modules reinforce the lessons from earlier in the day, while allowing the girls to explore the similarities and differences between various engineering disciplines.
Learning in Context via Tours and Lab Demonstrations
The tours and lab experiences are the capstone of each day. During these capstone modules the girls may build origami robots and visit a robotics lab; create prosthetic hands from 3D-printed parts; learn new coding skills; or conduct materials engineering experiments. In addition to the daily curriculum, a project design component is woven throughout the week. Each morning the girls work in small groups and apply their developing engineering knowledge and critical thinking skills to solve a problem of their choosing. These projects are an excellent way for the girls to express their creativity, showcase their ideas, and learn more about engineering. During the last day of the program, the girls present their team project ideas using elevator-pitch skills they learned earlier in the week.