Young women explore careers in technical fields

Even in a world where cell phones and iPods are a necessity for most people, classes in math, science, and engineering aren’t always the most popular among high school students. But subjects from geometry to computer programming captivated a group of high school women attending a weeklong career exploration program sponsored by the Institute of Technology Center for Educational Programs (ITCEP).

The program, Exploring Careers in Science and Engineering (ECSE), introduced high school women to a wide range of opportunities in technical and scientific fields. The program was held on campus July 10–14.

During the program’s math component, the beauty and logic of geometry came alive as the students carefully laced together boldly colored equilateral triangles of kite fabric. Section by section, a tent-size polyhedron took form in the Murphy Hall classroom where the students were engaged in a hands-on workshop. Working with the triangles and viewing the three-dimensional figure from the inside and outside helped the students understand the basic geometric principles of polyhedra.

The week’s activities included campus tours, demonstrations, panel discussions lab experiences, and informal lunches with career advisors and faculty. In addition to learning about mathematics-related careers, the young women also programmed a Sony AIBO robot dog, visited the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics to work in the laboratory’s experimental flume, and tried their hand at forensic chemistry after visiting a “crime scene” in Smith Hall.

ITCEP's popular K-12 enrichment programs, offered during the academic year and summer, are designed to keep young students interested in science, math, and engineering. Some programs, like ECSE, are specifically designed to encourage young women and students from underrepresented groups to explore careers in technical fields.