Penn GEMS: Opening Doors in Engineering
For 5 days in August, Penn Engineering was home to 45 young women innovators, creators, and problem-solvers.
Part of the annual Girls in Engineering, Math and Science camp, known as the Penn GEMS, these girls are rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders who had a unique opportunity: to come to Penn and learn what it is that makes engineering so great for girls.
During their time on campus, participants spent time learning about the unique avenues that make up engineering. They got to experience different labs and activities like DNA extraction in Bioengineering, learning how to program their own robots and producing their own short animations.
This experience came with an opportunity to be taught by Penn Engineering faculty and students, and to be immersed in an environment of creativity and exploration. Possibly for the first time in their lives, each of these girls was able to see that they are not alone in their desire to learn how things work and to invent new technologies.
“It is at this critical time that it is most important to reinforce in these young women that Engineering could be the career path that is right for them,” says Michele Grab, Director of the Advancing Women in Engineering (AWE) program. “Girls need to see that engineering and other related fields like math and science are open to everyone and that they should nurture their talents and not feel alone in their interests.”
GEMS is sponsored by the AWE program, the organization dedicated to the recruitment and retention of women students in the engineering school. Typically, women make up less than 20% of engineering students, but at Penn the number is over 30% thanks to efforts made by the school to provide programs like GEMS that get women interested in science and technology at an early age and allow them to see Penn as a welcoming place for women engineers.