Through fun, dynamic and interactive sessions, this day is designed to spark interest in high-tech fields and encourage girls to pursue technical careers. Since 1997, Rensselaer’s Design your Future Day (DYFD) has gained momentum and attention for its contributions to women in technology. Over the years this program for extraordinary young women has been expanded and refined to provide these high school juniors with the opportunity to explore all that careers in science and technology have to offer. The program goals are the following:
- Showcase a variety of career areas and provide exciting hands-on laboratory and field exercises in engineering and technical disciplines;
- Introduce female professionals and students in engineering and other technical fields as role models;
- Help high school girls to connect with other students possessing similar interests and backgrounds;
- Create a pre-college program that can be shared with other universities.
A wide-range of fun and interactive workshops provide the participants with a hands-on opportunity to see how exciting and stimulating professions in engineering and technology can be. The NEES@Rensselaer facility provided a hands-on session for DYFD 2008; the participants had 14 sessions to choose from. The NEES@Rensselaer program description was the following:
Shake, shake, shake…
See how Civil Engineers obtain information about the soil and earthquakes by spinning dirt at 200 mph. Make your own soil models and test them using a mini-centrifuge and mini-shake table.
On April 19th, eighteen high school juniors attended the NEES@Rensselaer facility hands-on activity in one morning and one afternoon session. Participants learned about the goals of civil engineers and the challenges facing them. They then learned about how civil engineers can overcome these challenges with advances in research, particularly the research made possible through NEES. After explaining the basics of centrifuge research, the girls were divided into groups of 2–3 to build their own miniature retaining wall models. Each group’s models were tested on the mini-centrifuge and observed during testing to see if the wall would still be structurally sound at 10 g. The group was then lead on a tour through the NEES@Rensselaer facility. The session was completed with a liquefaction demonstration on the newly developed mini-shake table demonstration. While many of the participants had heard of liquefaction, they could not remember what it was or why it would be a concern to civil engineers. The demonstration showed how if an earthquake motion was applied to a saturated soil deposit, then a poorly designed structure/foundation system would suffer damage. Each participant completed an evaluation form. The results of these evaluations are summarized in a separate document. The DYFD program is such that participants have many choices of activities. While many participants may not have been able to attend their first choice activity, nearly all participants learned about civil engineering and enjoyed the activity.
You may read the complete overview.