Currently, women comprise approximately 28 percent of the student body at the Colorado School of Mines and make up an even smaller percent in technical industry. Organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers aim to encourage more women to pursue degrees in engineering in order to increase the percentage of women in what are currently male-dominated fields.
Mines’ chapter of the Society of Women Engineers hosted the second annual Girls Lead the Way Conference on Feb. 8 at CSM. The conference invited high school girls interested in engineering to spend a day at Mines and learn the ins and outs of being an engineering student.
The conference featured an Engineering Student Panel full of current Mines students who answered various questions the high school girls had about engineering, Mines and college in general. Attendees also received advice on how to choose a major, how to write an effective resume and how to dress for success.
Christin Mastracchio delivered a keynote address to attendees encouraging them to pursue a degree in engineering. Mastracchio grew up in Houston, Texas with a desire to become an astronaut. She attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and received a degree in astro engineering. Mastracchio proceeded to obtain a masters degree from MIT and currently serves as an Air Force Bomber pilot.
Pursuing a degree in a technical field opens the door for so many more opportunities than a degree in a non-technical field, according to Mastracchio.
Mastracchio’s advice applies not only to future engineering students but current students as well. “During your study in college you’re going to go through all kinds of struggles and late nights working on problem sets but stay the course,” Mastracchio said.” If you are having trouble staying motivated, keep in mind that just because you major in engineering does not mean that you will be doing strictly engineering for the rest of your life. So, use your interests to further your success in engineering.”
In addition to offering advice to all engineering students, prospective and current, Mastracchio strongly encouraged the room of girls to go for a degree in engineering.
“Girls are well suited for engineering, so go for it. Girls tend to focus better and can put in the hours of studying and doing problem sets at a desk whereas boys often times prefer hands-on learning. This statement is of course a generalization, but many class standings have shown that women outperform men academically.
“Women are born problem solvers and often have more common sense and intuition for readily finding a better way to do things. Women also have a heart to improve the world. Combine that compassion with the engineering smarts to be able to make a difference and there’s no limit to the good you can do.”
Ultimately, Mastracchio along with the other presenters and student volunteers at the conference hope to encourage girls to pursue a degree in engineering.