Femineering club attracts more girls

With only four girls in their engineering class of 20, Annie B. and Kelsey R. saw a problem.

“A lot of engineering projects are geared towards guys, but there are a lot of girls out there who like math and science,” Annie B. said. “We’re trying to make more projects female friendly.”

The group meets every other Wednesday in Tony Rainsberger’s room, the engineering lab, to promote the engineering classes by inviting speakers and thinking of projects that will appeal to girls. Rainsberger’s wife Shelly Knupp is the primary advisor for the club, while Rainsberger organizes the club meetings and helps with the school things.

“Shelly Knupp is a former chemical engineer,” Kelsey R. said. “She has friends in the area who know that there aren’t that many women out there.”

“We’re designing projects that are hopefully entertaining and fun, team building, and developing community,” Rainsberger said.

One of the projects Femineering wants to do is create key chains in two designs to promote engineering to the junior high – one for girls and one for boys, both centered around engineering.

“We will create the design on a computer and print it on plastic on the 3D printer,” Annie B. said.

The group is also trying to create a Big Sis/Little Sis group that would pair high school girls with junior high girls to mentor them.

“We are trying to get as many as possible to join,” Kelsey R. said. “We want to promote engineering classes.”

The group already has between 30 and 40 members. The girls are not all taking engineering, though they are in the club. About 10 of their members are seniors.

“We’re trying to get more juniors so they can lead next year,” Kelsey R. said. “There are a lot of freshmen who are really passionate about it and we also have a few sophomores.”

The club is an experiment, because no other school has a Femineering club in the area. Project Lead The Way is helping them start their club, and they will later explain what worked and what didn’t to other schools who want to start women in engineering clubs.

“We’re still trying to figure out a good combination of speakers and projects,” Rainsberger said.

On Sept. 14, a Wright Patterson Air Force Base engineer spoke to the girls about her life as a working mother in a science field, and how the base uses solar panels.

The group plans to invite many more women to speak to the club as well as encourage girls to go to engineering conventions in the area. Colleges like University of Dayton, Purdue University,and Ohio State University, have engineering programs for high school students to learn more about specific areas that interest them.

“It’s a good field for women to go into because women are a minority,” Kelsey R. said. “They want younger women so they aren’t a minority.”


By Eileen McClory

– mcclory.eileen@oakwoodschools.org


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