Originally created 02/24/02

Engineering 101



AIKEN - First they got to see a $5 bill freeze. Next they got to see how robots helped clean up after terrorism.

And then they got to see the stars - women engineers.

More than 50 middle school-aged girls were introduced Saturday to the possibilities of engineering - historically a male-dominated profession.

The gathering at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken placed Savannah River Site engineers with young girls. Some said they had thought science was boring.

"I thought it would be a lot of talking and not a lot of doing stuff," said Williston home-school pupil Kathryn Byrd.

Kathryn said her Girl Scout troop leader is an engineer at SRS and they never really talk about her work.

After Saturday's event, Kathryn said she wants to know more about it.

"I'll ask her tomorrow," she said.

Kathryn and other home-schooled students were additions to this year's Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, said organizer Jaclyn Spear, an engineer at SRS.

The CSRA Society of Women Engineers and Westinghouse Savannah River Co. helped sponsor the event.

Organizers said they wanted middle school pupils to interact with engineers because in high school most girls don't sign up for science classes, which leads to fewer wanting to become engineers.

Cassie Robinson did grow up to become an engineer.

She works at SRS and spoke to the girls about how robots were used to help officials at the site of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"I think this (program) opens their eyes," Ms. Robinson said. "I think it helps them see engineering is fun. When I was their age, I know I didn't think engineers had any fun."

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.