Girls get hands on engineering experience at Mississippi Power

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's a career field largely dominated by men, but today Mississippi Power hosted a program meant to encourage more girls to consider a job in engineering.

This week across the country organizers held events as part of an initiative to get more girls interested in engineering.

According to the National Science Foundation in 2012 there were more than 1.5 million people working in engineering jobs, but women make up only about 12 percent of that number.

Students, who attended the iCan program in Gulfport Saturday said the event really opened their eyes to the possibilities.

Ninth grade girls from Hancock County Schools got an opportunity to learn about engineering and what it has to offer. While there are already many women in engineering careers, organizers said they'd like to see more.

"Well speaking as a female engineer I think we bring a different prospective, diversity if you want to call it thought process to engineering and it strengthens our work groups it strengthens our community," Plant Daniel Plant Manager Valerie Wade said.

Guest speakers discussed engineering. Then each girl spent time at stations for some practical experience by interacting with mechanical, civil, industrial, chemical and computer engineering in a fun way.

At one station the girls learned how to take everyday ingredients and turn them into useful products like lip gloss.

"A lot of people at my school want to go into the medical field, but I want to go into engineering because I really like inventing things and coming up with new ideas and products," Hancock High School freshman Beth Shiyou said.

It's that kind of excitement that engineer Kate Champion said she wants to instill in other students across the coast.

"We want to show girls that you can be creative. You can pick your own color. You can pick your own consistency. And you can also do bath salts to different scents," Power Generation Engineer Kate Champion said.

Beyond the learning stations and guest speakers, the girls got something even better.

"They got to connect with female engineers that are actually in the work place right now. And ask questions and know that its real," Wade added.

In a world that's becoming increasingly reliant on technology, the iCan program is helping girls foster an interest in engineering at an early age.

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