Girls explore engineering programs at LCTI event

An LCTI student operates a remote-controlled robotic arm at the school's Exploring Engineering event.

An LCTI student operates a remote-controlled robotic arm at the school’s Exploring Engineering event.

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. | Mechanical engineers are among the highest-paid professionals in the U.S., but only 4.5 percent of them are women.

Lehigh Career & Technical Institute recently hosted an event designed to change that by growing the number of women who pursue careers in engineering — mechanical or otherwise.

As part of the Exploring Engineering event this month, approximately 80 female students who’ve expressed interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers spent part of their school day chatting with Lehigh Valley women who are engineers and checking out LCTI programs that are perfect for girls who want to follow in their footsteps.

The event, made possible by a $19,500 grant from Bosch Rexroth Corporation, featured the following speakers:

Beth Rothwell, a biomedical engineer who is president of Bethlehem-based VFD Technologies Inc., a company that Lehigh Valley Business ranked fourth on the region’s fastest growing companies of 2014.

Men earn about 80 percent of the engineering degrees issued by colleges in this country. Citing her career as an example of what women in engineering can accomplish, Rothwell said girls shouldn’t avoid the field because of the gender imbalance.

“I would encourage you not to be scared to get into engineering because it’s male dominated,” she said.

Kathryn Kinsey, an engineer who serve as an IT project manager for Air Products & Chemicals,  which his headquartered in Upper Macungie Township.

Lisa Walton, an industrial engineer who lives in the Allentown area and works for Anchor Pump & Engineered Equipment, of Warminster, Pa.

Walton noted that young people sometimes dismiss the profession as an option because they don’t know what engineers do. She explained that engineers, at their core, are problem solvers.

Often, her customers are looking for ways to improve their facilities’ energy efficiency and Anchor Pump’s products can help them do just that, Walton explained, adding, “I’m not selling anything, I’m solving problems.”

LCTI has five programs that can serve as a strong foundation for students interested in engineering:

Exploring Engineering participants learned about what each program has to offer at stations run by their peers.  At the Pre-Engineering & Engineering Technology station, for example, participant built a rubber band-powered toy plane.

During their stop at the Electromechanical/Mechatronics Technology station, students used a remote-controlled robotic arm to move materials. Later, students met the program teachers and toured the program labs.

Janell McCarroll is an LCTI alumna who went on to earn a degree in chemical engineering from Drexel University. In the video below, she explains how LCTI’s engineering program helped her succeed in college.

Head start on Engineering from LCTI on Vimeo.

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