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Northwestern Gives Girls Chance to Try Hands-On Engineering

Hundreds of Chicago-area middle, high school girls to take over Tech Institute Saturday
  • Northwestern’s 45th annual Career Day for Girls to take place Saturday
  • Alumna Hannah Chung, co-founder of Sproutel, to give keynote address
  • Participants will battle it out in an engineering design competition
  • Lab activities will include drawing pictures with bacteria, 3-D printing 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Almost 300 girls will experience the thrill of science during Northwestern Engineering’s 45th annual Career Day for Girls on Saturday at a daylong workshop, “Engineering: Find Your Element.”

By participating in lab activities, including drawing pictures with bacteria, testing out 3-D printers and experimenting with floating concrete, girls from the Chicago area will get a unique opportunity to get inside the mind of an engineer and experiment with cutting-edge technology.

“Engineering: Find Your Element,” which is designed to encourage young women to consider engineering in their educational and career goals, will take place 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Feb. 27, at Northwestern University’s Technological Institute, 2145 N. Sheridan Rd., Evanston. 

Sponsored by Northwestern Engineering and Northwestern’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, the event will include an engineering design competition, laboratory tours, hands-on experiments and a panel discussion about a variety of engineering majors and how to pursue them. Throughout the day, young women will be able to meet with current female engineering students, faculty and alumnae.

Northwestern Engineering alumna Hannah Chung, co-founder and chief creative officer of Sproutel, will kick off the program with a keynote address at 9:15 a.m. in the Technological Institute’s Ryan Family Auditorium. Sproutel is the creator of Jerry the Bear, a platform to engage children in play-based education, which has received praise from President Barack Obama to business mogul Warren Buffett.

Students participating in the lab tours (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) will have the opportunity to simulate chemical reactions on a computer, draw a picture using colorful bacteria, create a floating concrete figurine, explore 3-D printing and learn what it takes to build a car that runs on solar energy, among other activities.

In the afternoon, middle school students will rotate through three different hands-on activities (1:15 to 3:30 p.m.). High school students will separate into two groups to hear about various aspects of engineering (1:15 to 2:30 p.m.). After the panels, all high school students will participate in a mini-design competition (2:30 to 3:30 p.m.).

Career Day has been held at Northwestern annually since 1970, when only 4 percent of the students in the McCormick School of Engineering were women. Today, nearly one-third of Northwestern Engineering students are women.