The Cal Poly Pomona outreach program Introduce a Girl to Engineering received a 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The annual awards recognize people and programs that make a significant difference in encouraging and inspiring a new generation of young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering (IG2E) program invites middle school girls to campus to participate in hands-on activities representing a range of engineering fields. Recent activities have included: visitors making circuit butterflies using coffee filters, clothespins, LEDs and coin cell batteries (electrical); building a robotic hand (mechanical and biomechanical); constructing a Ferris wheel that had to rotate (mechanical); and modeling a metal molecule with pipe cleaners and pompoms (chemical and materials).
“I loved being on the Cal Poly Pomona campus,” said Faith, a recent attendee. “I want to be a surgeon, so being able to see engineering females working on pursuing their dreams is really neat. I loved being able to work on the hand activity. We were able to make the hand move as if we were building a robotic hand that a person can use.”
For Nicole Gutzke, outreach program liaison and Women in Engineering program coordinator, “The best part is hearing the students say, ‘I didn’t know this was engineering’ or ‘I didn’t know I could do this or make this.’ It’s their excitement.”
Throughout the event, women engineering majors serve as mentors. The visitors also get to know volunteers from the engineering industry and hear a keynote speaker, usually a female engineering graduate from Cal Poly Pomona.
Since the program’s inception, more than 1,000 students, 87 percent Hispanic or Latino, have participated in IG2E. In a 2019 survey, 60 percent of that year’s attendees agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “After the event, I want to be an engineer.”
This is the fourth year in a row that work of the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering (CPP WE) office has been recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. They were also honored in 2019 for Femineers (a program started at CPP that is now in more than 100 schools across six states) and in 2018 for the CPP WE program. Professor of Chemical and Materials Cordelia Ontiveros and Professor of Civil Engineering Monica Palomo, who originated the CPP WE program, were recognized in 2017.
The Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering, which is ranked among the best in the country, has 11 ABET-accredited undergraduate programs and seven graduate programs. Of the approximately 5,800 students in the college, 37 percent are from underrepresented groups and nearly 50 percent of recent graduates are first-generation students and low-income.