PHILADLEPHIA (NNS) -- Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) Women Engineers showcased career opportunities to Girl Scouts as part of their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused summer camp on August 16.
NSWCPD, Philadelphia University, and Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania established the Engineering and STEM Summer Camp as a way to further the scouts’ interest in technical careers. This program and visit to NSWCPD demonstrated the civilian career opportunities available for women within the Navy.
During the visit the rising seventh to ninth-grade girls presented their summer camp projects and received feedback from Navy engineers. The 24 participants also toured engineering test sites and research labs, and participated in a panel discussion with NSWCPD women leaders.
During the summer camp, the scouts worked with mentors and college professors on projects that aimed to solve a problem impacting the Navy. The scouts selected an issue and created a mock company to solve the problem.
The scouts’ projects were judged by NSWCPD engineers who scrutinized their business plans, engineering design and team work. Projects ranged from creating autonomous forklifts to “smart” conveyer belts to wind electricity harvesters.
The winning team created the fictitious company Aqua, whose goal was to provide purified drinking water aboard ships. Aqua’s brief highlighted the team’s engineering design steps, production process, systems integration, cost estimations, as well as a list of materials the company would use to create their purifying system.
Dr. Fernando Tovia, an industrial engineer and associate professor at Philadelphia University, has spearheaded the Girl Scouts’ STEM-focused summer camp in conjunction with NSWCPD since 2012.
Tovia uses the projects as a way to immerse the girls in a world of engineering.
“I had the students create a fake company,” Tovia said, “and create job postings to get them to research what entry level engineers make, and what is expected of them.”
“I wish that I had something like this when I was in middle school,” said Karen Dunlevy-Miller, NSWCPD Surface Ship Test and Program Division Head, who provided the Command welcome. “We need people your age to choose to go into engineering.”
Dunlevy-Miller was joined by other female NSWCPD leaders during the panel discussion. Margaret Connolly, Dorothy Kraynik, Megan Pierce, Grisel Velazquez, Shannon Seace, and Stephanie Tan described their career paths to the scouts.
They explained that the male-dominated field of engineering is including more women every day. The panel also emphasized the importance of working hard and doing well in school.
“If you do your job, everyone will respect you,” Connolly told the girls.
The panel also detailed opportunities for engineers to make a difference, from ensuring that people devastated by Hurricane Maria had clean drinking water to making our Sailors safer every day.
“There are all sorts of things you can do with engineering,” said Connolly. “You can be creative.”
According to the Girl Scouts’ national website, “Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to participate in STEM.”
After the panel discussion, the Girl Scouts toured NSWCPD engineering test sites and research labs to see Navy technology first-hand.
Scouts had the opportunity to tour an acoustic testing chamber, learn how the Navy utilizes 3-D scanning and manufacturing in the Advanced Data Acquisition Prototyping Technology & Virtual Environments (ADAPT.VE) lab, and sample ice cream made at the High Temperature Superconducting lab.
During the tours, ice cream was a favorite, but so was the technology demonstrated. The scouts witnessed the effects of superconductors and liquid nitrogen first hand.
NSWCPD engineers used the liquid nitrogen to cause a superconductor to levitate. The levitation enabled superconductors to glide like a train over a track made of magnets. The engineers explained to the scouts that as the technology continues to progress, superconductors will become increasingly prevalent in the future.
NSWCPD’s Elyse Merkel, who coordinated the Girl Scouts event at NSWCPD this year, views these types of events as a way for women engineers to engage with the community.
“We are able to demonstrate to these young women the importance and value of engineering and the impact NSWCPD and the Navy has on the world,” Merkel said. “By investing in these young girls we are investing in the future of engineers who hopefully will work for NSWCPD.”
After the tours Stephanie Davidson, NSWCPD intern coordinator, talked to the girls about internship opportunities. Davidson explained how to apply and how Navy internships could benefit their career.
Tovia agreed that the summer camp would give the students an advantage when vying for the high school internship programs.
“This is a great opportunity,” Tovia said. “Since you’ve participated in this program, you have a great head start on the application.”
NSWCPD provides the Navy's primary technical expertise for naval machinery research and development and in-service engineering, as well as machinery cybersecurity and lifecycle engineering.
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