Penn GEMS molds women engineers of the future

Penn GEMSPhoto credit: Felice Macera

Middle school-aged girls interested in science, math and engineering can enjoy a special kind of summer fun through the Penn GEMS program.

Penn GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science), operated by Penn Engineering’s Advancing Women in Engineering program, is a weeklong program designed to inspire young women entering seventh, eighth and ninth grade to pursue careers in the field by giving them a chance to try hands-on activities in bioengineering, nanotechnology, materials science, graphics and computing.

This year’s camp, which is completely full, runs from Aug. 3 to 7. Over the course of the week, 45 campers will learn how engineering is part of their everyday lives. Students will discover how cells travel throughout the body and how engineers are creating body cells to fight disease. They will try their hand at designing their own structure or vehicle in “Mechanical Engineering in Action,” and will learn the basic electro-mechanical principles behind robotics technology. Middle schoolers will even learn, from an engineer’s perspective, what it takes to keep the earth clean and healthy for the future.

Students will also make connections with role models and mentors who will help them visualize themselves as engineers. Women make up approximately 30 percent of the Penn Engineering incoming class each year.

Originally published on July 14, 2009