Girl Day at UT-Austin exposes 8,000 young students to engineering, science

Sanjna Reddy

The Women in Engineering Program hosted more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students Saturday for Girl Day, an event where women are encouraged to explore STEM.

The event featured over 150 booths with hands-on activities and demonstrations hosted by volunteers, UT student organizations, corporate partners and community organizations. UT’s Girl Day was created through a partnership with the Senate of College Councils, and events were held across the Cockrell School of Engineering programs around campus. 

Andrea Herrera Moreno, outreach program coordinator for the Women in Engineering Program, said this is the 18th year UT is hosting Girl Day, and it has grown over the years from 92 students to now over 8,000.

“It’s a national and international initiative called ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,’ part of Engineer’s Week, which is a national movement,” Moreno said. “It’s really an effort to celebrate engineers, bring them to campus so they can explain and create hands-on activities so the younger engineers … get excited about it.”

Environmental engineering junior Meera Rao said many organizations and companies contact the Women in Engineering program wanting a place at the event. 

“We’ve got a lot of companies and organizations that participate, and it’s just a matter of organizing everything,” Rao said.

The hands-on booth activities included building binary bracelets, an egg drop challenge, creating edible concrete and visualizing atoms with electron microscopes. An app allowed attendees to see where and when events took place.

Madison Hernandez, member of Austin Astronomical Society, volunteered for this event through her organization because she thought it would be a great opportunity to support young women getting into STEM careers.

“People are coming to school here and then leaving, rather than coming to school here and getting careers here,” Hernandez said. “Just that exposure makes a huge difference, so anything I could do to support that, I’m happy to.” 

Chemistry graduate student Tyler King helped run a booth demonstrating scientific glassblowing through the UT Glass Shop.

“It’s cool that they get to see really strange things,” King said. “(It’s) not something you would normally get to see, and as a chemist and having to inspire young people, the easiest way to inspire them is to show them dangerous things so then they can see that they get to play with some pretty cool things. If they’re not inspired, then nobody does what we do.”