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Penn SWE: GEARS Day

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GEARS Day 2014 was an engineering educational outreach event geared towards Philadelphia high school girls held on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014. The event was hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Society of Women Engineers section in conjunction with Philadelphia Society of Women Engineers section. This year’s GEARS Day marks the fourth year of the event being held on UPenn’s campus.

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This year’s GEARS Day was attended by seventy-six sophomore and junior high school females who attended high school as close as Philadelphia and as far away as Maryland, and was made possible by the efforts of over forty-five volunteers, ranging from undergraduate, graduate, and professional SWE members.

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Throughout the one-day event, students participated in four different workshops, each workshop having a concentration in different engineering fields.

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Students interested in Civil Engineering participated in our Bridge Design workshop, were students modeled their own bridges and simulated stress tests.

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A bioengineering workshop, called DNA Extraction, allowed participants to extract DNA from strawberries and bananas and observe them under microscopes. A new addition to this year’s workshop roster, a Wind Tunnel workshop, gave students the opportunity to build their own wind turbines out of various materials, place them in a wind tunnel, and measure the power generated by each of their designs.

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Overall, ten different workshops across the engineering disciplines of bioengineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, and systems engineering were represented at this year’s GEARS Day.

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Speaking to participants during and after the event, students who had previously never had exposure to engineering expressed excitement at an event that introduced them to a variety of different engineering fields. Specific feedback from follow-up surveys had participants commenting that through their involvement in GEARS Day 2014, they now had an increased interest in pursuing engineering in college and beyond. Collegiate and professional volunteers expressed their enthusiasm at being able to share their experiences in the engineering career path with a new generation of potential engineering students. The ladies of Philly and UPenn SWE had a great time hosting the event, and are already looking forward to next year’s event!