For the third consecutive year, the Cal Poly Pomona chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has won an award for its outreach efforts to local middle and high school students.
The chapter’s YES (Youth Engineering Success) Program won the Outreach Event Award at the 52nd annual National Conference for Women Engineers in Houston, in November.
Cal Poly Pomona’s SWE Chapter sent nine members to the conference, which was attended by more than 5,000 female engineers. The conference included a job fair with more than 200 companies, competitions and opportunities to share ideas for becoming a better engineer.
The Outreach Event Award is given to a school whose outstanding event not only embodies SWE’s mission but also inspires women to pursue engineering.
Club President Andrea Gonzalez, a fifth-year civil engineering student, says it was a “privilege and an honor” to be recognized and represent Cal Poly Pomona at the conference.
The YES Program is the Society of Women Engineers’ largest outreach event of the year. It is designed to show middle school and early high school students that engineering is an attainable and desirable career choice through technical tours, speakers, and activities. Early outreach events give students the opportunity to take appropriate coursework during their middle and high school years to be better prepared for a college education in engineering.
Outreach events such as the YES Program also give middle and high school students interested in engineering the chance to meet college students who can serve as role models, Gonzalez says. For last year’s event, SWE enlisted the Concrete Canoe team to talk to student attendees about how they used engineering to design and build a canoe that would float on water, despite being composed of concrete. Such demonstrations can make engineering less of an abstract concept, Gonzalez says.
“It can be much more relatable,” Gonzalez says.
In 2012, the YES Program brought to Cal Poly Pomona nearly 200 students and teachers from eight middle and high schools throughout the greater Los Angeles area. With the help of more than 20 volunteers and the support of five engineering faculty members, participants created and tested a catapult using engineering concepts, toured six different engineering labs and demonstrations, interacted with women from diverse engineering majors, and observed large-scale student projects.
This year’s YES program will be held April 26.
(Photo: Engineering students and SWE officers Nicole Baca and Karyna Bañuelos, left to right, accepted
the National Outreach Award on behalf of the Cal Poly Pomona chapter at the SWE National Conference.)