Invent it. Build it. is a hands-on outreach event at the annual conference of the Society of Women Engineers for girls grades 6 through 12 interested in learning about engineering. In October 2016, 1,118 girls and parents filled Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center for Invent it. Build it. at WE16, the world’s largest conference for women engineers.
Invent it. Build it. is divided into four parts: the SWE Girls Program, the Parent/Educator Program (PEP), the High School Girls Program and the EXPO. All attendees have the unique opportunity to gain a hands-on engineering learning experience in an effort to encourage young girls with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to pursue a career in engineering. It was the first year the program has been extended to include grades 9-12.
In a post-event survey, 90 percent of girls who have attended an Invent it. Build it. event say they leave with a better understanding of engineering, and nearly two out of three girls say that the event has strengthened their confidence in engineering-related skills.
“One of the things that turns girls off when it comes to engineering is that they don’t have prior experience with science and technology applications like most of the boys do as they grow up,” said Karen Horting, CEO and executive director of SWE. “Without prior exposure, girls are easily discouraged. By fostering that curiosity and giving girls these experiences with engineering activities at an early age, we can better prepare them to explore a future in engineering and keep them enthused and excited at the opportunities available in engineering.”
The Girls Program for grades 6-8 allows the girls to work with SWE members from around the world on hands-on engineering activities. The High School Girls Program for grades 9-12 gives the girls the opportunity to connect with real engineers and receive on-the-spot mentorship with discussions that cover everything from picking the right college to pursuing the right engineering degree.
While the girls participate in their respective programs, parents and educators are invited to attend the PEP, where they learn about the variety of engineering careers and scholarships available and are given helpful college admission resources for their children or students.
All attendees have access to an Invent it. Build it. EXPO, where they can learn about engineering clubs, engineering camps, competitions, after-school programs, scholarships and more. Exhibitors include the US Patent & Trademark Office, US Army Test and Evaluation Command, 2025 Labs, EngineerGirl, FIRST and more.
“There’s no better way to figure out if you’re interested in engineering and get hands on experience than a camp or an after school activity,” Horting added. “With Invent it. Build it, SWE hopes to provide a little more engineering exposure and excitement to the girls of Philadelphia.”
For more information about Invent it. Build it., visit inventitbuildit.swe.org.