Lip gloss, high heels part of engineering lessons in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power wants to spread the message that engineering is not just a man's job. On Wednesday, the company teamed-up with Long Beach High School to give young ladies a chance to explore the engineering field. The activities ranged from racing cars to designing high-heeled shoes.

Bright ribbons and sparkly gems can make shoes look cute and colorful, but some young ladies had the challenge of designing a high-heeled shoe that's also comfortable.

"Whenever I got here they explained all the types of engineering we're going to be doing with shoes, like you have to have support, stability, and be able to walk on it," said Long Beach High Freshman Amanda Sylvia.

Amanda Sylvia learned the civil and industrial engineering side of shoe construction. Sylvia and 24 other female students from Long Beach High School took part in four main activities at the "ICan Girls in Engineering Camp." The event was held at the Long Beach Community Center.

"It's really fun. It's hands on, interactive," said Long Beach High Sophomore Katelyn Carver.

Mississippi Power hosted the camp to foster an interest among ninth and tenth grade girls to consider careers in math, science, technology and engineering.

"It's been said boys are better at math and science than girls. So this helps bring forth the idea that girls are just as good at math and science and it's not just a world or something that would be interesting to boys," said Lesley Lewis, who was the guest speaker at the event.

Lewis is the plant manager of the Mississippi Power station at the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula. She told the girls about her job and how she made the switch from pre-med to chemical engineering in college.

"It's important for them to understand that engineering isn't just math. There are lots of other things that go into it. And technology today, kids are interested in how that works and that's really bringing it to everybody," said Lewis.

At the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering station, the students used KNEX pieces and battery kits to design and race motorized cars. Over at the Computer Engineering table, they used a software program to make an animated movie. And they concocted their own bath fizzies and lip gloss using Chemical Engineering skills.

"I really wanted to be an engineer and I didn't know what the types of engineering were. So I got here and they explained them and we got to build shoes and we built cars, so it's pretty fun," said Sylvia.

"I like how they got us to have a different perspective on the engineering, not just make like bridges and stuff, and see how it could be more of a girl career than just a boy," said Carver.

Trying out the different career options could help the girls decide if engineering is the right fit for them. The Mississippi Power employees also showed them how the math and science courses they are learning now can be applied in real life.

Mississippi Power has partnered with schools in the Bay-Waveland School District and Our Lady Academy in years past. This year, the company will expand the Engineering Camp beyond the Gulf Coast. The program will be offered at Hattiesburg High School in March, and then at Meridian High School in April.

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