Introduce a Girl to Engineering Returns to Siemens West Chicago

Ten years ago, enticing girls into engineering was close to impossible, today young women are excited to join the field.

By Jim Montague

In what's become an early-spring tradition, Siemens once again staged its "Introduce a Girl to Engineering" event for more than 100 girls on March 13 at its motor controls and power components manufacturing facility in West Chicago, Ill.

The mostly elementary and middle-school girls, including many Girl Scouts, and their parents attended presentations, plant-floor tours, problem-solving challenges and demonstrations by local, competitive, FIRST Robotics team "Pwnage" and its latest foam-ball-launching robot.

The tour included demonstrations of Siemens' machining, assembly, painting and packing facilities, including its new "night train" dynamic, material-handing line, which serves several punching, laser-cutting and bending machines, allowing them to run close to 24/7.

The problem-solving challenges included seeing who could build the tallest tower using uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, determining which aluminum-foil boat could hold the most pennies, and seeing whose paper airplanes could fly the farthest.

Starting out with just 15 attendees more a decade ago, the event has become so popular that this year's 11th annual edition had a waiting list that almost equaled its total attendance.

"Bringing more women into engineering gives our profession and our company a greater diversity of experience and thinking," reiterated Jayne Beck, motor control center and switchboard engineering manager at Siemens West Chicago. "Diversity means people have different ways of approaching problems and challenges, and this brings a lot of value to us and our company."