Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal, professor of mechanical engineering, secured a $30,000 grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation to fund a new pilot curriculum for the College of Engineering’s Femineer© Program, which provides K-12 students with project-based learning opportunities and college student mentors to instill an early interest in engineering.
The pilot will be conducted with a group of approximately 25 students currently enrolled in the program. The grant also allows each student in the pilot to receive essential tools and materials, like a multimeter (an electronic-measuring instrument), microcontrollers and sensors.
The Femineer© Program partners with schools to implement a three-year hands-on curriculum. Femineers—students enrolled in the program—begin with learning how to use basic tools through hands-on projects and then progress to learning programming languages to create wearable technology products, like neon-lit hats and ties, that depend on programming instruction from students to function properly. By the third year, Femineers use their aggregate knowledge for robotics projects using credit card-sized computers called Raspberry Pi. Femineers are invited to Cal Poly Pomona to showcase their work at the annual Femineer Summit; this year, attendance was over 500.
“Femineers possess knowledge and skills that most first-year engineering wouldn’t have,” says Jawaharlal, who also co-founded the program. “We hope that by helping them become confident by providing them with real skills will not only attract them to engineering, but will encourage them to pursue an engineering education.”