As part of Engineering Week, Komatsu Mining Corp. sponsored its 7th Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in Milwaukee, WI. Recognized worldwide, the day is focused on helping girls learn that they have a place in engineering a better world.
Research conducted by the National Academy of Engineering indicates that to encourage today’s students to become engineers we need to change how we talk about engineering.
“We’ve taken NAE’s research to heart in how we talk about the engineering field. The research found that when engineers were asked about their work they often put the focus on how challenging their course work was, how hard engineering is and that there is a lot of math. Often this immediately turns someone away from engineering, especially young women. Today we put a focus how engineering teams collaborate with others and the fact that as an engineer, you can make a difference” said Cathy Stagmer, Manager-Social Responsibility and event coordinator.
The event showcased women in a wide range of STEM professions at Komatsu, along with representatives from Scot Forge. From engineers to accountants to supply chain and international trade, the women that came to mentor the students use STEM principles as part of their everyday work.
Komatsu also hosted a private showing of the IMAX film, Dream Big: Engineering Our World, at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The film transforms how we think about engineering by showing an impressive journey from the Great Wall of China to the world’s tallest buildings, to underwater robots, solar cars, and smart, sustainable cities. The film features engineers who were inspired to use their work to create better lives for people around the world.
In addition, students interacted with STEM professionals as well as students from different schools in the city, providing an opportunity to expand their network of people who share a common interest in STEM. Over 50 young women enrolled in Project Lead the Way at four partner high schools, Alexander Hamilton, Tenor, Wauwatosa East and West Allis Central, attended the event.
Finally, the event focused on showing how Komatsu is using advanced automation to make our products safer and more efficient for our customers. This was followed by a hands-on activity called “From Pit to Pocket” where the students designed a program to guide a human “robot” through the mining pits, picking up silver, gold and copper-raw materials used in the manufacturing of a cell phone.
“The competition near the end of the event was fun and a good way to build our team work skills” said one student. Another commented, “I really enjoyed the robot activity. I thought it was a nice way to interact with girls from the other schools.”
Students shared some of their takeaways from the experience:
“I liked that we got the opportunity to talk to the people that work with the company, and I liked the film we watched, it made me realize engineers can actually change and help places for good.”
“I liked that the event was mostly all women and that the tasks were about working together and making sure that young women know that there are other people breaking the stereotypes of women in engineering.”
We recognize the important role we can play in encouraging the next generation of innovative and skilled STEM professionals. We know we can help students “dream big” about the ways they can change the world through STEM by mentoring in the classroom, job shadowing, hosting factory tours and mentoring robotics teams. It is through this outreach that Komatsu employees are helping introduce today’s students to the wide range of STEM careers.