Flip your calendar back to February 2001. People were still calling the internet the “world wide web,” we’d made it through Y2K, and everyone was throwing around words like “information age” and “digital revolution.”
The world would need a steady pipeline of bright minds to keep the big, outside-the-box ideas flowing. It would need more engineers.
A campaign begins
. Twenty years ago, DiscoverE, along with other prominent engineering organizations, created Introduce A Girl to Engineering (IAGTE) Day to show middle-school girls everywhere what it’s like to work as an engineer.
Why middle-schoolers? Research shows girls begin to question their interest in STEM
right around the age of 10, or fourth grade. Why the focus on girls? Less than 10 percent of female freshmen say they’ll pursue STEM
(science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, compared to nearly 30 percent of their male counterparts.
Collins Aerospace, a business of Raytheon Technologies, has supported the event from the start. Volunteers at the former Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened their doors to a small group of girls on that first, cold IAGTE Day in 2001. The program has grown: Last year, more than 2,300 girls and 1,000 volunteers participated at 55 Collins sites across eight countries.
Over the years, in-person activities have ranged from donning all kinds of goggles (safety, night vision, virtual reality) to see problems in new ways, conducting lab experiments, testing algorithms, designing robotics, and even sitting at the controls of a (parked) aircraft – so girls could experience a day in the life of an aerospace engineer.