Posted on Aug 15, 2002

Union workshop targets
women engineers

Luren Koplock, model manager of Pratt & Whitney Power Systems' Mobile Power Division, lends a hand to girls in Union College's EDGE Workshop

Who said girls can't be engineers? Certainly not Chantani
Newton and 20 of her newest friends.

“I came to Union to prove a point to
a boy who told me 'women can't be engineers,'” said the Bronx
high schooler who completed the two-week EDGE Workshop, a live-in camp that
introduces science-saavy girls to engineering.

A focus of the camp, in its inaugural season at Union,
was re-engineering toys and electronic devices to be used by severely disabled
children. At the start of the camp, the girls visited patients at Schenectady's
Northwoods at Hilltop brain injury rehabilitation center where they met with
patients and began to re-design everything from stuffed animals to TV remotes.

EDGE Workshop participants test a design

“We focused on something they could embrace immediately,”
said Bob Balmer, dean of engineering at Union.
“Certainly, I think that for girls of this age and children in need there is a
natural affinity.”

Campers are high school junior and seniors, about half from
the Capital Region. Some come from as far away as Washington, D.C.

At a time when less than 10 percent of the nation's
engineers are female, there is a critical need for recruiting, Balmer added. “Engineering, which essentially began as an outgrowth of our military, has for too long been largely without the creative energy of half of our population. It's time we changed that.”

The EDGE Workshop was supported by Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Pratt & Whitney, Capital Region Robotics, the AYCO Charitable Foundation, ASME Hudson Mohawk Section, Dynamics Research Corporation, the Northeast Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and the GE Women's Network.

Click here to read a Daily
story on the EDGE Workshop.