ExxonMobil holds ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ in Beaumont

In association with ExxonMobil’s ongoing “Be an Engineer” initiative, the company held its annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day program Thursday, April 6, at Jefferson Theatre in Beaumont.
In its 14th year, the program engaged 90 Beaumont ISD middle-school girls in a hands-on approach that allowed them to experience the excitement of being an engineer. About 40 Beaumont-area ExxonMobil employees volunteered during the event.
“This program provides middle-school girls with an opportunity to ‘test drive’ engineering through hands-on activities designed to boost their confidence and encourage them to pursue courses of study that will prepare them for careers in this field,” said Fernando Salazar, ExxonMobil’s Beaumont refinery plant manager, who participated in a sling shot rocket experiment with students Thursday. “We want students to know that being an engineer means being collaborative and creative, and solving problems to make people’s lives better. We hope to generate interest and excitement today. Experience shows us that developing enthusiasm at this age greatly helps with raising confidence levels to pursue engineering.”
Ninety eighth-grade girls from Marshall, Martin Luther King, Odom, Smith, South Park and Vincent middle schools made their own lip balm and sling shot rockets with ExxonMobil engineer and Community Outreach Chair for ExxonMobil’s Women’s Interest Network Allyson Lattimore, learned how a refinery’s distillation column works from Lamar University Chemical Engineering professor Tracy Benson and participated in a raft rally as part of the day’s experiments.
Diversity is important in STEM, Lattimore said, but girls tend to feel inferior or are not encouraged to take on those more hardcore science-based careers.
“STEM is not just limited to rocket science and things of that sort,” she said. “Activities like this show the girls that engineering can be fun.”
“We need all the fresh minds that we can get to help solve today’s problem’s, tomorrow’s problems, and the next generation’s problems,” added Benson, who said he has been volunteering with the program for four years. “Particularly, we need more and more girls from the schools to migrate into the engineering fields. This gives me the opportunity to bring this to them in a one-on-one situation.”
According to the National Science Foundation, while women make up about half of the college-educated U.S. workforce, they account for only 15 percent of practicing engineers. Less than 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering are awarded to women.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering is part of a series of efforts by ExxonMobil dedicated to encouraging more young people, and particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, to pursue engineering careers. The program is affiliated with Girl Day, DiscoverE’s worldwide campaign to introduce girls to the world of engineering.
DiscoverE is leading a growing volunteer movement that inspires and informs present and future generations to discover engineering. A network of volunteers in the U.S. and abroad is drawn from the DiscoverE coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies. Together they meet a vital need: introducing students, parents and educators to engineering, engaging them in hands-on engineering experiences and making science and math relevant.
For more information, visit www.discovere.org.