The UAB Society of Women Engineers hosted two day-long events in February to engage fourth, fifth, and sixth graders with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math in a fun day of learning.

The event was organized by SWE at UAB with the help of 50 volunteers from across the UAB School of Engineering. The organizing committee included SWE at UAB president Emma Schmidt (BME); board members Kyla Luechtefeld (BME), Natsha Wright (ME), Lauren Townley (Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering), Mariam Massoud (CCEE), Kayla Marshal; and faculty advisor Virginia Sisopiku, Ph.D., CCEE.

Between the two day’s events, on February 15 and 22, 97 kids registered and 25 parents. This year’s theme was “Survival!” focusing on the relationships between various engineering disciplines, breaking them out of their respective silos and emphasizing the connections between them. Kids were divided into teams to experience hands-on the five different disciplines of engineering offered at UAB — biomedical, civil, electrical, materials, and mechanical engineering — with one common goal: survive on and successfully escape a deserted island. They learned about morse code and how solder a flashlight, make a shelter to keep them safe from the elements, design a boat to help them escape, and more.

Emma Schmidt, SWE at UAB President, notes that year after year some of the same kids return to participate in this event, “and have a sense of confidence about themselves that we don't even see in our college volunteers,” she says. For example, soldering is a skill that intimidates many undergraduate engineering students, Schmidt says, and this event, “has 5th graders soldering whole circuits and motors onto their cars.”

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