Urban Life


        In a world where engineering has primarily been a career for men, young ladies strive to change this view.

IHEELS, Inspiring Hands-on Engineering Experiences With Ladies of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), is only one of the many engineering programs Molly Baker, the outreach coordinator, supervises.

Two years ago, Marquette University’s College of Engineering received a grant from the Motorola foundation to create a foundation for middle school girls, which is where IHEELS came into play.

75 girls participated in the program last year. It received a lot of positive feedback.

“I plan to come here next year,” said Glendy, 13, one of the students.

“I really like doing the projects,” said Amy, 12, another student.

        Because there was money left over in the grant, they were able to extend the IHEELS program this summer so that middle school girls wouldn’t be the only ones able to experience engineering.

        “Next month is for elementary girls,” said Baker.

One of the benefits of having a girls-only class with female instructors serving as role models is that girls feel comfortable. The girls aren’t afraid to test new projects or try another way of thinking.

In the current class, the girls worked on building bridges.

“I like to figure things out,” Sarah, 12, said. She explained in detail how much she likes to make bridges out of models and use kits to put things together.

        “It was really fun…I didn’t know this is what it was about.”

        According to Baker, the girls have a great time.

        Amy, also 12, is in her second year at IHEELS. Her mother introduced her to engineering.

        “I really like building things and finding out how they work,” she said. “I really like doing the projects.”

        She enjoys hands-on learning and would like to pursue engineering in her future.

        Based on Amy’s favorite projects, which are mechanical engineering, building bridges, and water hydraulics, engineering would be a great field for her.

        Caitlyn, 13 and a little older than the other girls, attended IHEELS for the first time this year. Her mother introduced her to the program.

        She enjoys engineering and likes to “explore different types of it.” Coming back next year is part of her plans.

        Would she pursue this career in her future?

        “Yes because I really enjoy everything we’ve done so far,” said Caitlyn.

From building Lego men to water hydraulics to bridges, the IHEELS program is the right direction to go if engineering is a career a young lady would like to practice.

        The students are not the only important ones in IHEELS. Female instruction and leadership is highly favored.

        They are women that study or have studied engineering at Marquette University. The program admits graduate and undergraduate students. Each assistant has different experiences and has studied several types of engineering.

        “They talk with younger students and inspire them,” Baker said.

        Cathryn, a recent graduate from the College of Engineering, is one of the assistants. According to her, a program like this would have been helpful to her when she was in middle school. It brings her joy to “go backward and use what I’ve learned to help them.”

        Cathryn’s favorite part of the program is “the girls; they’re really fun.” She believes that it is good to see their creativity and see that they can do this in real life.

        According to Cathryn, IHEELS helps to “foster diversity” and give the girls a chance to shine.

        Currently, there are no requirements in participating in IHEELS other than being a middle school student. The program is $50 for the week.

        Whatever financial support is given to IHEELS, Baker says the savings are passed along to the girls, making it affordable to not only learn about engineering, but have fun as well. | UV


Female engineer breakthrough| Jasmine Wright

One of the benefits of having a girls-only class with female instructors serving as role models is that girls feel comfortable.

Video by Brendan Ploen and Simone Yang