LONG BEACH -- Engineering isn't just a boys' club.
Mississippi Power Co. set out Wednesday to open up the world of engineering to about 25 Long Beach ninth- and 10th-graders through its third annual iCan Girls in Engineering program.
During the day-long program, the students heard from several industry speakers and got hands-on at stations geared toward piquing their interest in civil, computer, industrial, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering.
At the stations, the girls could build motorized cars, design high-heeled shoes and make lip gloss, bath salts and animated movies.
"We want to break through (barriers) and present it in a way that girls are more apt to accept it," said Kate Szkolnik, a EMS support engineer at Mississippi Power. "We want to show them that there are fields out there if they go into engineering that they can do and enjoy.
"It's not just a boys' field and we want to let them know that if they get a degree in engineering they can work in marketing, computer engineering, chemical engineering. They can work outside or behind a desk. The fields out there are abundant and with that engineering degree you open up all these doors."
Lesley Lewis, plant manager at the Chevron Co-Generation Plant, told the girls about her experiences in engineering. The LSU chemical engineering grad said she sort of stumbled upon the field. After she began taking engineering courses, she was hooked.
Lewis, an Ocean Springs native, said she hopes Wednesday's program goes a long way in fostering an appreciation of engineering.
"The basic idea is to introduce them to the concepts of math and science, technology and engineering and how it applies to girls," she said. "Sort of break down the walls as far as it being a male-dominated field. It wasn't an opportunity that was presented to me, so I'm happy to expose the girls to this."
Making an impact
Laura Sylvia is only a junior, but she said she's already beginning to stress about future employment possibilities. She said Wednesday's program helped solidify her career aspirations.
"Today's camp was very helpful," she said. "I'm thinking I'm going to go into the engineering field and this camp really helped me decide what I want to do."
Sylvia said salary potential is a big plus to being an engineer and in an ideal world she'd love to be a Disney Imagineer.
Mississippi Power plans one-day programs in Meridian and Hattiesburg in the coming months.