By Ms. Audra Calloway (AMC)March 6, 2013
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Picatinny hosted an "Introduce a Girl to Engineering" night Feb. 28, in the Building 93 lobby for approximately 20 local high school females to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The event showcased the science behind different engineering jobs at Picatinny, and offered the students a chance to talk with female engineers about their career fields.
"This is an opportunity for female high school students to speak with several of our women engineers working on cutting edge technology, see some of their accomplishments, and learn about the tools they use," said Cindy Perazzo, the event organizer. "The students will hear what motivated them to become engineers and hopefully discover the rewards of an engineering career."
Perazzo is the Deputy Director of Technology with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny. More than 20 ARDEC engineers and scientist, both male and female, volunteered to support the event, which occurred after normal office hours.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration, "although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs."
"We don't see a sufficient number of STEM people coming into the workforce to fill the needs of the future," said Ed Petersen, STEM Program Manager for ARDEC.
"Every day that goes by we become more dependent on technology and it's going to increase at a rapid rate throughout the foreseeable future," Petersen said.
Lauren Relyea, a senior at the Academy for Math, Science, and Engineering at Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, was one of the students who attended the event.
"I'm looking to major in mechanical engineering in college, so I really wanted to know what it's like to have a profession in engineering," she said. "My dad's an industrial engineer, but I really like working with my hands and all the machinery that's in his factory, I thought that was really interesting."
Relyea said that during the event she learned about quick sand, bullets, and nanotechnology.
She is not deterred about going into a traditionally male career field.
"I definitely think people view it as a male-dominated field, but that didn't discourage me because it's really what I want to do so I'm going to go for it anyway," she said.
Participant Cassandra Yauch, from Kittatinny Regional High School, also plans on a career in mechanical engineering.
Yauch is a member of the Newton Robotics Team, and also plans to enter into mechanical engineering because she enjoys building things. The Newton Robotics Team fosters engineering by competing in robotics competitions.
Other students were still exploring their career options.
Rachel Good, a sophomore at Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, said that she enjoyed the event because it showed her so many different aspects of engineering.
"I've always been good at math and science, and my teachers and guidance counselors thought engineering would be something I should consider," she said.
"What was really cool, was that we saw new technology like a 3D printer that could possibly one day print biological parts of your body, and learning that there's so many opportunities that come from the engineering field."
She enjoyed learning about chemical and material engineering, and was intrigued that material engineers are needed for everything from Army uniforms to high end fashion in New York.
"I think what they're doing here is good," she said of the engineering event. "It's showing it's a very open opportunity for women," Good said.
The event was hosted by the Picatinny Chapter of Women in Defense and ARDEC's Defense Ordnance Technology Office for STEM.