Summer Engineering Experience: A Program to Increase Gender Diversity in STEM Fields

California Space Grant Consortium (CASGC) is providing partial support for the third annual Girls Summer Engineering Experience (GIRLS SEE), a week-long residential camp for high school students to be held in Summer 2011. GIRLS SEE is a recruitment and retention effort to increase the number of female applicants into the different disciplines of engineering and to increase retention of the current female engineering students. The second objective is accomplished by providing Lyles College of Engineering (LCOE) female engineering students with a service learning experience by assisting in the administration of the camp and mentoring the participants.

GIRLS SEE was conceived in 2009 in response to the small number of females pursuing engineering and other STEM fields. At Fresno State, only 14.2 % of students receiving an engineering degree during the academic year 2007-2008 were female, roughly corresponding to the percentage of female student population in LCOE programs. The Lyles College of Engineering believes that it is necessary to create local programs aimed at exposing female students in their final three years of high school to basic concepts within different areas of engineering and construction management in order to open the possibilities for these students to choose a technical major. Because retention of students is another major concern, GIRLS SEE was designed in such a way that current female engineering students can participate as mentors and assistants for each activity. The faculty in charge of the different activities trained the students while providing a service learning experience and giving leadership opportunities to them.