UIC students introduce engineering to girls

Two women giving the peace sign

Megan Dague (left) and Stephanie Sagun gave girls in fifth through seventh grade their first look at careers in electrical and computer engineering during a Nov. 12 event.

UIC engineering students hosted “Mom, Me, and SWE” Nov.12 to encourage elementary students to consider careers in engineering.

The event, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers, is an outreach program for female students in fifth through seventh grade and their parents. More than 30 students and parents participated in the free event, which focused on electrical and computer engineering. UIC engineering students Stephanie Sagun and Megan Dague provided an overview about the department and worked with the guests as they built circuit boards.

“SWE is really important to me,” Dague said. “It’s the first student organization I got connected with and they made me feel really welcome. I’ve been able to grow as a person and engineer with all the girls in engineering.”

The event included a computer science overview, and activities that involved basic computer science and electrical engineering concepts. The day concluded with remarks from guest speakers Anu Khera of IBM Cloud Storage and Anne Johlie of Mobilitie.

Teresa Jimenez of Orland Park attended the event with her 11-year-old daughter, Sophia.

“She’s coding at [Jerling Junior High School] and that has really peaked her interest,” Jimenez said. “She said, ‘This is fun and I like it.’ So when this program came about, we thought we can attend and see all the other areas of engineering offered. I think it’s a great opportunity for the young kids to be out and experiencing new things and learn about new areas. It’s great that they have this program so young women can know that they too can be part of the engineering world.”

The Society of Women Engineers is a support group for all engineering students at UIC. “Mom, Me, and SWE is one of the many events the student organization hosts throughout the academic year to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers to younger students.

“This is a great way to introduce young girls to engineering and strengthen the College of Engineering’s relationship with local schools,” said Elsa Soto, associate director for UIC’s Women in Engineering programs.

The next “Mom, Me, and SWE” is scheduled for April 2017.