1660245368223 Montague

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Returns to Siemens West Chicago

April 2, 2015
Ten years ago, enticing girls into engineering was close to impossible, today young women are excited to join the field.
About the Author
Jim Montague is the Executive Editor at Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines. Jim has spent the last 13 years as an editor and brings a wealth of automation and controls knowledge to the position. For the past eight years, Jim worked at Reed Business Information as News Editor for Control Engineering magazine. Jim has a BA in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and lives in Skokie, Illinois.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."

Photo 1: Shipping department crater and packer Al Papish shows groups of girls attending Introduce a Girl to Engineering how he and his coworkers use their giant Wulftec shrink wrapper at Siemens West Chicago to prepare motor control centers (MCCs) and other products for shipment.

Photo 2: Lynne Batts demonstrates how Siemens West Chicago uses copper punch presses to manufacture the mechanical bus bars. that are at the heart of many of its products.

Photo 3: Ally Bowgren and Thomas Kein describe how the Pwnage FIRST Robotics team designed and built their latest robot., which gathers a big foam ball into a catapult, and launches it into a goal or passes it to other players. Their robot won the Illinois FIRST Robotics contest in April 2014, and was a finalist at the FIRST Robotics World competition. It employs 12 Talon motor controllers, pulse-width modulation and CANbus communications, National Instruments serial board and C++ software programming. The team is based at Genesis Automation in St. Charles, Ill.

Photo 4: Sixth graders and members of Girl Scout Troop 1393 cooperate to tackle the twin engineering challenges of height and stability as they build towers using just uncooked spaghetti and mini-marshmallows.

Photo 5: Malak Elkhatib and Zahra Bhojani build aluminum-foil boats, and then load them with pennies to see how much weight they can handle before sinking.

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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