Friday, August 20, 2010

Future female engineers bond before classes

Meredith Moriak/The Daily
Thursday, August 19, 2010

More than two dozen freshmen and transfer students participate in event to promote female engineering careers. Growing up around airplanes and getting her pilots license early in life convinced freshman Katie Gayon aerospace engineering is the major for her.

On Wednesday, the Keller, Texas, native wore a bracelet and a necklace adorning airplane charms as she played icebreakers, heard speakers and talked with upperclassmen engineers at the inaugural College of Engineering Women’s Welcome.

Gayon and 28 other women entering OU’s engineering program participated in a two-day event open to all female freshmen and transfer students. Attendees heard from multiple women engineers, participated in team building activities, mingled with college faculty and staff and talked with upperclassmen about everything from study abroad opportunities to career fairs, as well as buying books.

Event co-chair Tiffany Smith said there is a large need for women’s support programs in the engineering field. Currently, women represent 20 percent of the college’s undergraduate population. In the future, the college hopes women will represent 50 percent of the undergraduate population, said Smith, College of Engineering staff member.

OU alumna Lou Pritchett spoke about the impact female engineers have made. The 1982, the electrical engineering graduate was active in the Society of Women Engineers at OU and now does information technology for a winery in California.

“Women have a lot to offer engineering,” Pritchett said. “They have different dynamics and skills, and I think the industry is just starting to recognize those skills.”

Event volunteer and aerospace engineering junior Carly Young believes women have the potential to be better engineers than men.

As the only female in her aerospace classes, the Society of Women Engineers president was thrilled to learn about the welcome event and helped coordinate volunteers.

“I don’t want someone to give up because they’re the only girl,” Young said. “They can do just as well as everyone else and I want them to avoid what I ran into.”

The event was sponsored by Williams Companies, a Tulsa-based energy company and attendees paid a $25 registration fee.

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