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Dayton Engineer

Women in Engineering Club at Springboro High School Opens New Doors

By Elizabeth Skelin, communication intern

Among recent efforts to place more women in STEM fields, high school juniors Maddie Pluta and Anna Braunschneider of Springboro High School are spearheading a Women in Engineering (WIE) Club for their peers interested in pursuing the field. 

After attending the Women in Engineering summer experience held by the University of Dayton School of Engineering, Pluta and Braunschneider fell in love with the program’s concept. While at UD, they learned about the different areas of engineering, experienced campus life and met women with similar career goals. Pluta shared that she still talks with friends she made during the program, noting that they continue to support each other. 

The University of Dayton has one of the longest running summer camps for women in the country, according to Laura Bistrek, executive director of the Diversity in Engineering Center at UD.  Entering its 47th year, the camp is part of the University’s strategy to increase the numbers of women in engineering.

“We have totally revamped the WIE camp experience for summer 2020,” Bistrek said.  “This year’s camp will be shorter and less expensive while keeping all the best elements of previous camps. We want to make the experience more accessible for busy juniors and seniors.”

The young women’s quick, joint decision to attend the UD summer program blossomed into a decision to create a WIE Club at their high school. Both women appreciated the chance to talk with women who shared their interest in engineering, and they wanted to find a way to expand their network and meet more women in engineering. 

Their club allows for all members to explore different areas of engineering. The members meet once a month, where they speak with engineers about their specific field. WIE Club talks mostly to female engineers, as they can accurately share the experience of being a woman in a majority male field. Following their guest speaker’s presentation, the club completes an activity to reinforce the day’s topic. 

Currently, WIE Club is focusing on monthly meetings, but Pluta and Braunschneider hope for the opportunity to take WIE Club on field trips to local companies and observe engineers at work. After the two founders graduate, they hope to pass their club on to younger members to keep the legacy going. 

WIE Club provides a safe space for young women at Springboro to explore the field of engineering. In offering this extracurricular, members can meet new people with that common interest; it creates an instant connection, allowing individuals to be passionate about engineering together. 

More than anything, Pluta and Braunschneider hope to help bridge the gap between men and women in engineering, starting at their local level. Braunschneider indicated that the WIE club highlights the need for women in STEM, with a goal of ultimately attracting more women. 

Pluta and Braunschneider stressed the importance of taking initiative for young women interested in STEM. They explained that making the effort to learn and try different areas will help those women in the future. 

“The creation of the WIE Club makes it more known that women can be in the field and do just as well as men,” Pluta said.  

With that as their inspiration, the pair encourage their female peers to step up and bring greater gender equity to STEM fields, showing that women really can do it all.

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