22 February 2012 – Women represent only about 20 percent of engineering students and 10 percent of profession engineers, according to statistics. The “My Daughter is an Engineer” (MDIAE) program — designed to bring mothers and daughters together to participate in engineering-based activities — is helping to change that. This K-12 outreach program, sponsored by the IEEE Control Systems Society, introduces robotics and controls to young girls via hands-on engineering workshops with an aim to get them to consider future careers in STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics). Participants included 14 elementary school girls and their mothers who worked together in two engineering-based workshops on robotics and controls technology in everyday life at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), California, USA. Each student and her mother formed a team, made a remote-controlled robot (called the RC Snap Rover), designed an application to use the robot in helping a daily task, presented their project, and demoed their robot. Three winners were selected based on the creativity and performance.
The girls also participated in a separate workshop on academic career preparation and skills learning. The program included a field trip to Columbia Memorial Space Center at City of Downey, California, USA, in which students and their mothers visited a realistic mock-up of a spacecraft and mission control room. To successfully complete their mission, they became crew members on a simulated space mission to solve real-life problems in math, science, and technology. After the mission, they visited a robotics lab to program a robot on Lego/Mission Mars computer and tested their skills with collecting, surveying, and rescuing. Finalists were recommended and selected by the school counselors and the MDIAE program committee. Participating schools included four schools from the Long Beach Unified School District: Chavez Elementary, Edison Elementary, International Elementary, and Roosevelt Elementary (California, USA). More information can be found on the Women in Engineering Outreach Program Web site.