Engineering day strives to introduce field to aspiring young women

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A number of local companies are joining forces to inspire students. Specifically, they want to inspire high school girls who want to be engineers. The Overland Park Convention Center was full of aspiring engineers on Friday.

"I take a lot of engineering classes at my school. It's just something I've always had an interest in," Lee's Summit North freshman Brooke Snyder said.

Snyder was selected by her teachers to attend the annual "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day."

"I wasn't sure which area I wanted to go into, but it's helped me narrow it down into which field," Snyder said.

She is one of 200 high school students taking part in the day. They jumped from station-to-station to learn as much as they could about engineering. From one-on-one mentoring to meeting prospective employers. The metro's biggest hitters, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell and Honeywell took part in the day.

"It's really awesome. I wish we had something like this when I was in high school." Alyssa Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, an engineer at Honeywell, helped organize the day. She hoped it made a difference.

"You're afraid to look stupid in front of your peers or have people judge you, but you have got to ask questions," Zimmerman said.

Honeywell is working to boost the pipeline of engineers, a mostly male-dominated field, with women. Currently women only represent 10 percent of the workforce.

"There aren't very many females, but it's growing," Zimmerman said.

Growing, with students like Snyder, who said the day helped her figure out her future focus.

"Architectural engineering or civil engineering. I like designing buildings and weight loads," Snyder said.

Most female engineers entered the field because they knew an engineer or someone they respected said it was a path they should take. Kansas City is one of the country's largest engineering communities.

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