Every February, we celebrate National Engineers Week (E-Week). This year’s theme was Welcome to the Future. E-Week is a large, national, STEM event intended to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Engineers throughout the United States and within the many varied engineering disciplines. The week is also dedicated to introducing students to engineering career opportunities.

Within Engineers Week is a day dedicated to inspiring girls to consider a career in engineering. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (Girl Day) helps girls become aware of the opportunities within engineering, learn from mentors and accomplished women engineers, and see that they too can have a place in engineering a better world.

In recognition of E-Week and Girl Day, Civiltech Engineers, Jen Hyman, P.E., and Kaela Worman, P.E., volunteered their time to mentor and inspire students.

Introducing 6th Grade Students to Civil Engineering

On February 23, Jen presented “Inspire Future Engineers” to 6th grade math students at St. Raphael School in Naperville. Jen had attended St. Raphael in elementary school, and her daughters attend the school now. With these meaningful connections, Jen was thrilled with the opportunity to provide mentoring, give back to the school, and be an example of a St. Raphael alum in a successful engineering career.

The program was part of Engineers Week events curated by E-Squared (Explore Engineering). E-Squared is a program created by the Illinois Engineering Initiative (IEI) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC-IL) with a goal creating awareness of the engineering profession among students.
Jen’s presentation introduced the students to the field of Civil Engineering, and she shared her educational path, what her career entails, and examples of her project work. The students then participated in a hands-on activity called Stopping Distance that explored how variables such as speed and friction affect the distance required for a vehicle to stop.

In recapping the experience, Jen said she really enjoys working with younger students. The Stopping Distance activity involved small teams competing to see what combination of ramp geometry and surface materials affected the travel of a toy car, with prizes for farthest and shortest distances. She observed that it was the perfect activity to bring out the kids enthusiasm, competitive spirit, problem solving, and excitement of infusing something new and different into their day.

Inspiring Middle and High School-Aged Girls

On February 24, Kaela participated in a panel discussion as part of the Northwestern Career Day for Girls, hosted by the Northwestern University Chapter of Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Career day is an outreach event that hosts over 300 middle and high school female and non-binary students from the region.

Kaela participated as a representative of Civil and Transportation Engineering and joined the other panelists bringing engineering specializations and backgrounds. The panel included Monica Thompson, a business owner and former Mission Control Specialist with NASA; Esmeralda Orozco, a Project Engineer in Pharmaceutical Consulting; and Christina Fuentes, a Consultant Biomedical Engineer in Cell and Gene Therapy.

The panelists gave overviews of their education and careers and fielded questions from the students in attendance. Discussions included advice for pursuing a career in engineering and shared experiences as women in the engineering field. In addition to the panel discussion, the students participated in small group STEM activities and tours of various labs on the NU campus.

Kaela summed up the experience saying that it was exciting to see the large number of girls that participated in the event, some from out of state. She was impressed with their insightful questions and that they showed up prepared and ready to engage in the opportunity the event provided. Kaela also enjoyed learning about the impressive careers and extraordinary insights of her fellow panelists.