By Andrea Tehan Carnes
Middle School Math and Science Teacher

For the third year in a row, Stoneleigh-Burnham students have attended the the UMASS-Amherst Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day at the UMASS Campus Center, held on Monday, Oct. 23. This is a full day with great information about what students in high school need to know in order to pursue an engineering or computer science degree in college. The reason for this program every year is to try and recruit more young women into these STEM fields in order to increase diverse perspectives to shape our world’s future.

The day always begins with an introduction from Dean of the College of Engineering Tim Anderson and Assistant Dean of Diversity Dr. Paula Rees. The keynote speaker was Dr. Gillian Grebory, who works for GEI Consulting Engineers. She is a Geotechnical Civil Engineer who got her master’s and PhD at UMASS and has worked on some really exciting projects. Locally, her firm redesigned Route 2 in Savoy, MA after Hurricane Irene in 2011. Her firm also designed the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC, which is a site the 8th grade class visits every year on their class trip.

Students also get a chance to meet with industry professionals to hear about their jobs and internship opportunities once they reach the college level. They also do two hands-on activities that give them a better idea of what engineering and computing looks like, and they hear from a panel of current female students and alumni about their experiences as young engineering students.

The day culminated in tours of two robotics labs, where we met PhD students working on humanoid robots from a NASA grant to work to complete tasks autonomously, and a group of students that built their own robots from scratch in order to compete in RoboCup soccer.

The message of the day was a promising one that welcomed our students to try to challenge themselves to major in something that will really be life-changing after a few years of hard work. The students that went had a lot of great things to say about the day, and left really excited and wanting more experiences meeting real engineers and touring possible career locations, which is something that I will work on scheduling!