DVISD middle school girls visit Tesla, Infineon for Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day
Several dozen middle school girls from around Del Valle ISD traveled to electric car maker Tesla and semiconductor manufacturer Infineon for Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day.
The groups met with engineers at the Tesla Gigafactory and Infineon to get an inside look at what engineering is and how they can one day become engineers and leaders.
For many, it was their first time learning about engineering and seeing how it works up close.
Milena Caravantes, an eighth grader at Ojeda Middle School, spoke of her excitement about the opportunity to travel to the Tesla Gigafactory and learn from women in STEM.
“I feel like having this opportunity is really good for the kids and I feel being a part of it, it's amazing itself. I'm getting over here to look at what our new generation is making and doing, and I feel like it's amazing and the opportunity itself is just really great and I'm grateful,” said Milena.
At the Tesla Gigafactory, the girls got hands-on engineering experience through three projects: creating a simple motor, a balloon-propelled car, and a bridge design project. At Infineon, another group of students learned about the semiconductor manufacturing process through small tasks and later toured the chip-making facilities.
Women engineers with years of experience spoke to the groups, sharing their life stories of how they ended up in engineering. The theme across their stories was that the path isn’t always clear or straightforward, but the challenge shouldn’t deter young determined minds.
“This experience is going to help provide career readiness for our students, and it's also going to help them maybe decide their pathways for high school and then college,” Alyssa Baker, a seventh-grade science teacher, said. “Whether they want to stay in the science field and engineering or maybe they might even find out that this isn’t for them. So it's a great opportunity for them.”
Baker said seeing the girls apply what they've learned in class to the projects at the semiconductor facility was a fun experience and highlighted the importance of exposing girls and minorities to careers in STEM.
“It's amazing for them to have opportunities that kind of put them at the front of the STEM field, just so that they have opportunities that their parents may have not been provided or their grandparents may have not been provided,” Baker said.
Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day is marked at the end of February each year after the National Society of Professional Engineers founded it. The day is an effort to introduce young girls to professions in STEM and help create a fair field in male-dominated STEM occupations.
The DVISD Workforce Development Office organized the trip to show girls that if they decide to pursue engineering, they can get a headstart in high school by picking a Career Technical Education program starting in the ninth grade.
DVISD Superintendent Dr. Annette Tielle visited both facilities and spoke to the girls on Thursday.
“This is one example of the many unique opportunities students in Del Valle receive thanks to our unmatched partnerships with local industry. Workforce development is an area we take pride in because it gives students opportunities above and beyond two and four-year programs. It was wonderful to watch young women learn more about all of the possibilities they have ahead of them in a variety of career paths.”
For Milena, the experience gave her a better understanding of what engineering is and how she might one day fit into the puzzle.
“You don't know how it's going to be, and you’re scared and you think about other things and I feel like me experiencing this and looking at this - it's giving me an idea on how it's going to be,” she said. “I just want to say, again, how thankful I am for this opportunity.”