The EngineerGirl Ambassadors program, launched by the National Academy of Engineering on International Women’s Day 2018, invites high school girls with an interest in and understanding of engineering to share their talents with younger girls in their community. Sophie, a high school student from Pasadena, CA, was chosen as an EngineerGirl Ambassador in the 2019 – 2020 cohort. Sophie’s project had two components: filming interviews with women in engineering, and running a series of in-person STEM workshops with girls who have little access to other STEM opportunities.
Over the course of her year as an EngineerGirl Ambassador, Sophie created four videos of her interviews with six women in various engineering fields, including the president of Harvey Mudd College, Maria Klawe, who led the school to achieve a 50/50 ratio of women to men STEM graduates. Sophie spoke to these women about their path to engineering, the exciting work they’re doing now, and how we can get more girls interested in STEM. She edited them into engaging videos that can impact girls far beyond those she was able to reach in-person. All of her interviews are now posted to the NAE YouTube channel and featured on the EngineerGirl website.
Sophie also partnered with a local organization, Families Forward, that provides educational and family services for under-resourced families in Pasadena. She held four workshops for a group of eight middle-school girls. During the workshops she shared the videos she created and led the girls in hands-on activities to explore different kinds of engineering. Not only did Sophie give these girls an exciting introduction to engineering, she raised funds to buy computers for them to use during the workshop and allowed them to keep the computers afterward. Having access to her own computer was a tremendous gift for each of these girls and a big help when schools shifted to online learning due to the pandemic.
Using the training she received at the SWE conference and the continued support of other Ambassadors, Sophie was able to continue growing throughout the year. Not only did she create exemplary videos and inspire younger girls in her program, she took risks and gained tremendous confidence in herself and her ability to lead. Sophie posted a video about her experience that can be seen here.