Spring 2016 – UNT Discovery Park

We want to share with you a summary of a phenomenally successful return to Discovery Part at the University of North Texas for the Design Your World-STEM Conference for Girls held on April 2, 2016.  By the numbers: 150 6th-12th graders, 40 parent educators and 101 volunteers were among those who filled Discovery Park with squeals, giggles and much laughter. Many thanks for the sincerity, leadership and work ethic that UNT SWE students from all engineering departments (and beyond)!

Here’s a video prepared by Haley Barnes, the UNT SWE Vice President, creator of UNT Compliments and National SWE Future Leader learning leadership from a selected group of nationally advised SWE collegiates.

Check out this review posted to UNT’s College of Engineering website.

See more photos at our Facebook album here!

We had many returning students, parents and volunteers. This speaks to the deeply engaging structure of the event. As most of you know, Design Your World is the signature outreach program of Dallas Society of Women Engineers, winning multiple national awards for both the student and parent/educator programs. This April the Society of Women Engineers supported of the event through a Professional Development Grant. We also continued prior support from local corporate partners: Exxon Mobil (Platinum), State Farm, Lennox International and Abbott (Gold) and Rockwell Collins (Silver). We thank them for their support in increasing diversity and excitement for technology and engineering careers.

For the 150 students we had 6 groups of 25 each working on principles of design for 1.5 hour length activities

  • Groups 1, 2 and 3 experienced Robotics, Programming and Future City Designs. The robotics activity was designed by Robocamp, a program run by the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department at UNT and led by Amber Sodikov, Engineering Technology, a UNT SWE leader. Programming was developed by Mayaria Johnson, a UNT-CSE alum and employee at Pepsico with volunteers from State Farm working with the students. Future City Designs was led by UNT Association of Construction Engineering Technology President Bobbie Daniels who had a wonderful warm and supportive group of UNT collegiates working with attendees.
  • Groups 4, 5 and 6 experienced activities in Electronic Art, Energy Device Designs and Biomedical Engineering. Electronic Art was led by Tram Trinh, the Dallas SWE social media coordinator and electrical engineer. She modified the activity designed in our 2013 SMU event by Kim Knight, UTD to enable students to design a flashing LED headband in an hour and a half. Biomedical Engineering was led by the women engineers at Abbott who developed the activity. Nicole Teague and Neha Dobhal engaged students in a very engaging activity. We were energized by the amazing engineers from Lennox. New to Design Your World and embracing diversity with our professional members and with students, Lennox has quite simply made Dallas SWE awed by the example of their extensive effort to embrace diversity in true engagement. They worked with students from UNT- Lindsey Smith of Mechanical and Energy Engineering and Tyseanah Spell of Computer Engineering. Tyseanah is a leader of NAACP and NSBE together with SWE and worked hard to make this new activity that related to an everyday conversation of students- listening to parents tell them about thermostat settings and the cost of energy. The heating and air conditioning segment was related to the body as a system and fundamentals of energy management were easy to relate to.
  • The Parent/Educator portion of the Spring 2016 Design Your World event incorporated numerous engineering professionals from the DFW area sharing tips and stories about inspiring and preparing students to become engineers. The event was chaired by Amber Scheurer, Texas Instruments.  The opening speaker, Dr. Tandra Tyler-Wood, UNT discussed her research on STEM education and some of the best practices for ensuring girls’ success in school. Then Jack Grimmett (Texas Instruments), Susanna Biancheri (AT&T), and Amy Brunson (Raytheon) all shared personal anecdotes about guiding their daughters towards STEM careers. They offered great advice for families and answered questions from the parents in attendance. Next, the attendees were given a tour of the UNT Engineering college, followed by a presentation from Dr. Nandika D’Souza about the UNT engineering program and general college admissions process. The parents also received an informative presentation about financial planning and the cost of attending college from Richard Mullin, Admissions Representative for GMU. The final panel of the day featured early-career female engineers Corrinne Gagnet (Texas Instruments), Jennifer Vilbig (Vilbig Associates), Ashley Dunn (Aerospace Engineer), and Sarah Green (Dr. Pepper Snapple Group). They each shared their unique path, support network, and career decisions that lead them to their very diverse industries and roles.  The event proved extremely helpful for those in attendance and helped facilitate new connections between parents, educators, and professionals in the area. The program ended by a visit from the 2016 Dallas Regional Finalists advancing to the World Championship in St. Louis Missouri- Eagle Robotics.  The team from Allen High School are members of the opening year of SWE Next and exemplified to all the value of educator-parent-student early engagement with professional SWE.

If there is an inspiring thought it is this: Nearly all the volunteers in Design Your World spend their days in 60 hour work weeks because we are all engaged in challenging and growth-oriented careers. In an all volunteer process, this event continued the tradition of people taking that time to serve. If there is a way for us to exemplify the goals of SWE: Aspire, Advance and Achieve it is to experience Design Your World as an attendee, a volunteer or a parent educator. Dallas SWE supports all DFW universities in their effort at recruitment through organizing a Design Your World Conference at their school. To ensure professional development of its members in tandem with increasing demographics of women engineers, the organization runs two all day events each year and monthly leadership events. This event will be featured in the fall issue of SWE Magazine. Of course this month we have two UNT students featured in the magazine: Jessica Rimsza (graduate student) and Haley Barnes (SWE future leader). Both reflect the principles of the Diversity and Excellence in Engineering Initiative of CENG-UNT: uncompromising dual metrics of excellence and diversity.

Sammy Zellner, UNT SWE student co-chair of Design Your World, April 2, 2016

Nandika D’Souza, UNT Faculty advisor, Dallas SWE VP for Outreach and co-chair of Design Your World, April 2, 2016

Kitty Elshot, Coordinator for registration of volunteers, attendees, web manager and communications of Design Your World, April 2, 2016

 Fall 2016 – Eastfield College

15129593_1185507921526396_2917248102004801617_oOur Design Your World STEM Conference for Girls held on November 12, 2016 at Eastfield College was a phenomenal success!. By the numbers, 150 4th-5th graders, 49 parents and educators, and 158 volunteers helped make it an exciting day to learn about what it means to be an engineer. THANK YOU to all of our generous corporage sponsors: Exxon Mobil, Abbott, Lennox International, USAA, Schneider Electric, Rockwell Collins, State Farm, and Bentley! We would also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our event coordinators: Samica Norman (Dallas SWE VP of Outreach), Barbara Vilbig (fall chair), Lynn Mortensen (Volunteer Coordinator), Becky Byford (Registration Chair), Shelley Stracener (marketing and media), Ashley Skubitz (opening/closing ceremony), Monika Allen and Amber Scheurer (parent/educator forum), Emily Hall (student activities), Terriekka Cardenas (logistics), Liz Hainey (fundraising/finance), Nadine Jones (t-shirt and food order), Estrella Perez (student lead) and Peggy Shadduck (Director, DCCCD STEM Institute).

Academia Partner Recognition

This year we would especially like to highlight our exciting academia partnership organizations! We are so grateful to have had numerous volunteers from each of these institutions:

  • Collin College SWE
  • UT Dallas SWE
  • UT Arlington SWE
  • Eastfield College
  • Dallas County Community College District STEM Institute
  • Brookhaven College
  • Eastfield College Allied Health Society
  • Richland College
  • El Centro College
  • UNT Rocket Team

Special thanks also to our opening and closing session guest speakers Alicia Morgan, Estrella Rodriguez Perez, Ashley Crowe, and our partners at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.

Photos and Video

You can find all of our event photos on our Facebook page album for this event! Check out the recap video below to get an idea of what the day was like.

Student Activities

We had a great variety of student activities to choose from this year! Each student experienced three of the below activities during their day:

  • Biomedical Hand, sponsored by Abbott: Students made their own working prosthetic hand from craft materials.
  • Arduino Board Programming, sponsored by Lennox: Using a circuit breadboard and programming tools, students learned about temperature sensors and software.
  • Patents and Trademarks, sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): Inventions are novel ideas that should be protected and documented! Students worked in groups to invent new devices or processes, then pitched their ideas to the group.
  • Pop Fly Challenge, sponsored by Eastfield Allied Health: Students learned about physics and designed catapults to launch a ping-pong ball at a target.
  • Emergency Shelter Design, sponsored by State Farm: Students learned how to be resourceful in a crisis and create dwellings using everyday household items.
  • Seismic Shake-Up, sponsored by UTD SWE: Building a structure that will survive an earthquake is a difficult task. Students created and tested their designs to learn iterative development skills.
  • NASA Rockets, sponsored by UNT Senior Design: Students designed rockets powered by balloons and watched them fly up to the ceiling!
  • Computer Programming, sponsored by AT&T: The MIT-designed Alice Programming tool helped students learn how to structure computer programming projects and how their code can change a 3D animated video project.
  • Gravity Cars, sponsored by DCCCD and USAA: Students made their own wooden cars and experimented with how shape, weight, and wheels affected vehicle performance down a track.

Parent & Educator Sessions

The parent and educator session kicked off with a panel of students pursuing STEM courses entitled “My Path”. Eighth-graders Jacqueline Serratos Cardoso and Ana Valdez Quintas talked about excelling in robotics with encouragement from their teacher, and Brookhaven College student Estrella Rodriguez Perez shared her journey of moving to the US and learning English to continue pursuing a STEM education.

After lunch, the parents and teachers joined their students in a hands on activity. Then in the afternoon they attended a resource panel “How to help girls stay in STEM”. This discussion encompassed a wide range of topics including activities and tools for parents at home, the types of classes girls should take, and other community resources available. This panel consisted of Adlena Jacobs (Mesquite ISD HS Teacher), one of her students Michelle Morris, Michele Newman (Mesquite ISD Robotics Teacher), Ashley Crowe (VP of Girl Experience with Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas), Dr. Peggy Shaddock (Director, DCCCD STEM Institute), and John Harkins (retired engineer and STEM advocate).

Ultimately the parents took away numerous handouts with resources, inspiring stories from girls in the midst of their STEM journey, and great advice from peers and educators empowering them with lots of ideas for encouraging their girls.

Engineering Fashion Show

Our event-closing Engineering Fashion Show has become a favorite tradition of Design Your World conferences. Thanks to our participants: Amanda Posadas (business casual), Erin Duffy (construction), Amber Hale (lab coat), Amber Scheurer (clean room suit), Lam Hong (lab coat and safety glasses), and Kim Smith (professional clothes)!

Impact Highlights

Below are some quotes from attendees on our event evaluation forms. This is why we continue to put on this event twice a year since 2012!

Q: What did you like most?

Adult Attendees:
Outstanding value, love that it was just for girls.
Seeing all the different opportunities and being able to have my 4th grader exposed to all this at an early age.
You have given my girls motivation to do something amazing.  One of my girls said, “I feel like a real engineer.”

Student Attendee:
We had fund designing and learning to make cars and we spent a girls day out.

Q: Would you tell other kids to participate in events like this?

Student Attendees:
Yes, it tells girls their just as capable as men.
Because it’s a confidence builder.
Yes because girls can change the world.

Volunteer Reflections:

Great event.  The participants were from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Love this event can’t wait to come back next year.