21 June 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif.–Rene Sully didn't start out studying materials science. She started out studying anthropology. Joy Franco has a complex mathematical formula tattooed on her forearm.
They're both the face of the new engineer today, and they're taking their experiences as students and already trying to encourage girls not much younger than they to get into–and stick with–technical disciplines.
We've heard occasionally, in pursuing the women-in-engineering thread, that oftentimes high school counselors steer girls away from engineering and math, perhaps for cultural reasons.
"It's true, and I don't think it's malicious," Franco said. "We're just brought up with that. Unless we're lucky enough to stumble upon someone … who says 'you know engineers create things (and) you don't have to be an art major to create things'…we don't always know there are other options."
Sully and Franco are working with their chapter of the Society of Women Engineers to build a mentoring and tutoring program in which high school girls would spend time at San Jose State here, where Sully and Franco are students, learning about and getting inspired by engineering and other technical pursuits.
"A lot of people in general don't know what engineers do and how useful it is and how it's a growing field," Sully said.
Right now they're looking for corporate angels (you know anybody?) that can donate time and money to get the program rolling.
Here are two faces of the future of engineering talking about how to bring the next generation along: