The Women's Initiatives Network hosted the event at the Caterpillar Visitors Center
Caterpillar's focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and diversity in the workplace was the highlight of "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" last week. Coordinated by the Women's Initiative Network (WIN) Peoria Chapter, the event took place at the Caterpillar Visitors Center and opened the world of engineering to Peoria-area students.
Several companies and organizations host this type of event to introduce engineering to girls who may not be exposed to the career opportunity otherwise. WIN was excited to put together this first-time event for Caterpillar and promote the importance of innovation and diversity.
More than 150 local middle school and high school students, teachers and Caterpillar employees came together to make this fun and educational day happen. Middle school girls were the target audience and came from six different schools, ranging from sixth to eighth grade. The students were put into small teams, paired with two women engineers, and explored several interactive learning stations to learn about engineering careers, innovations, teamwork and communication. These activities were organized and presented by Peoria-area high school girls participating in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics program. This collaboration allowed the younger girls to see how they can learn about engineering now, during their school years, in order to prepare for a career in the field later.
In addition to the interactive programming with the FIRST teams, there was a discussion panel with female Caterpillar engineers and visiting professionals. The panel highlighted the vast opportunities in the engineering field, including overviews of mechanical, electrical, bio medical, industrial and environmental. The students were given the opportunity to network with current female engineers as well.
By engaging students early in their education, we can expose them to the benefits of working in an inclusive environment where you can really make an impact on the world with your innovative ideas.