Students encourage diversity in engineering

Abby Acker, Pati Morales, Kimber Kunselman and Katrina Carpenter hold up their current engineering textbooks in front of the engineering building.

The Society of Women Engineers at John Brown University will host its annual event, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, to encourage young girls to become engineers.

Engineering is a big part of the JBU community. Engineering students spend long hours doing homework and studying for tests. Typically, a large majority of engineering students at JBU have been male. However, in the past two years, more females have joined the program.

Annika Pollard is a junior engineering major, a soccer player and a newlywed. Annika is excited to become an engineer and make a difference as a woman in the field.

When Pollard was asked about Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, she was excited and thought it was very important. “More girls need to be involved in the STEM field, ” she said. “I barely notice the minority of females in the engineering department because John Brown has such a supportive environment,” she said.

Abby Acker is also a junior engineering major. She is loving her degree program and wants to become an engineer. Acker said of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, “I’m excited to provide an opportunity for elementary girls to see that it’s possible for them to study engineering or math or science and excel at it.”

Acker spoke about why she enjoys the engineering program. “I’m in my fourth semester here at JBU, and so far I’ve loved it. Things I didn’t expect to enjoy, like learning to write programs, analyze circuits and understand wave motion have been so interesting to learn, and the whole program is great.”

Acker said there are many career options with her degree. “Although I really enjoy my engineering classes, I still don’t know what I would like to specifically work on. Even within concentrations like mechanical and electrical, there are so many different types of jobs and possibilities. It is my hope to use my engineering qualifications, skills and knowledge to help people with really basic needs that are not already met,” she said.

Neeya Toleman, a senior engineering major and president of the Scociety of Women Engineers., said she was also excited for the day. “I’m pumped for this event!” she said.

Toleman said their section of the organization has two focuses.

“One is building community between the females of the department, and the other is doing STEM outreach to younger girls. The event will last a few hours and is hosted at the BTC by our members and other volunteers. We’re targeting fourth grade girls, which is an age range that has been shown to be a key period where girls start to lose interest in STEM.”

Toleman also explained that this is not the first time the society has done this event. “We did a kind of trial run of this event on a smaller scale last year that was completely planned and led by our Vice President Julia These, and now we’re wanting to expand and do even more this year. Doing Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day has always been a goal since we founded SWE last year, and I’m excited to see where the event takes us in future years as well.”

When asked about her future plans, Toleman agreed that there are many possibilities. “In terms of possibilities with engineering, I have a lot of diverse interests in power, biomedical and defense areas, and I’m still trying to figure out where God is leading me. Despite the specific area, I do plan to pursue the engineering profession after graduation and somewhere in there, go to grad school. But that’s also a completely different variable as to where, when and what for.”

The event Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is held nationwide. Engineers all over the country will be introducing girls in elementary and middle school to the fun and excitement of engineering. JBU engineering students are excited to be part of this event in hopes of building interest among future female students.