A KUA student operates equipment as CEPS machinist Scott Campbell supervises.
Each time Tim Roemer ’13 stepped into Kimball Union Academy’s (KUA) maker space, he noticed a shortage of female students interested in engineering.
In crafting a solution, the KUA educator turned to his alma mater to create the Girls in Engineering program aimed at providing high school students with hands-on engineering experiences in a university setting. In its inaugural year, Roemer and four KUA students spent five days at UNH, where Roemer earned his mechanical engineering degree in 2013.
“I chose to bring this program to UNH because of the tremendous resources here and my connection to the university,” says Roemer, who teaches math, physics and engineering as KUA’s STEM program coordinator. “I get excited every time I come back to campus.”
Increasing the number of female students in STEM fields was one of the recommendations in a 2015 report published by the New Hampshire Governor's Task Force on K-12 STEM Education. It is also a goal for Roemer, who believes that exposing female students to engineering will lead to increased maker-space participation and more women pursuing the field.
After the five-day experience, Roemer felt confident he achieved his goal.
A KUA student operates equipment in the machine shop of Kingsbury Hall under the supervision of her teacher, Tim Roemer ’13.
“The students expressed a newfound desire to spend time working on projects in our maker space,” says Roemer. “They were pleasantly surprised to learn all the things that engineers can do outside of building cars and bridges.”
In addition to working on individual projects, the students used SolidWorks and MATLAB in computer labs, received multiple department and lab tours and met with faculty members, including professor Brad Kinsey, who says the visit strengthens the university’s commitment to building a pipeline of students in STEM fields through efforts such as tech camps and the elementary camp in computing.
“This targeted experience led by Roemer was a unique experience for the four women involved,” says Kinsey. “We see such activities as essential to secure the pipeline of talent for the future.”
Caitlin Kuzma, a rising junior at KUA, says the experience has made it more likely she will consider engineering when applying to colleges next year.
“I learned a lot of things from this program that I couldn’t have learned at school,” says Kuzma. “My favorite part of this experience was learning to use SolidWorks, which makes me more eager to take a class with it in the fall.”
Study Engineering at UNH
The students were also exposed to university life by staying on campus, eating in the dining halls and exploring the local community.
“The campus is beautiful, and all of the students and staff were very welcoming,” says Kuzma. “When I start thinking about where I want to go to college, I'll definitely reflect on this experience.”
With a successful launch, Roemer plans to bring the program back to UNH next summer. He is hoping to expand the number of participants and increase the scope of engineering experiences.
“This was a great opportunity for these girls,” says Roemer. “My dream would be to expand this program and offer additional weeks during the summer to other high schools.”