Oskar Palinko and I helped out with UNH High Tech Day, organized by the UNH CS department. We hosted about 100 students from three UNH high schools and discussed our driving simulator-based research.
Are you concerned about the low number of female graduates in fields such as electrical and computer engineering and computer science? I am – the numbers are truly dismal.
In an attempt to improve the situation a little, I organized a visit of 21 female 8th graders to AutomotiveUI 2012. The students attend the Armand R. Dupont School in Allenstown, New Hampshire. They came to the conference with their math teacher, Michelle Kelly. Michelle and I have been planning this trip since this summer, when she conducted research in my lab at UNH.
Michelle’s students discussed the conference, as well as the work of engineers and scientists, with three women attending the conference: Linda Boyle (professor at University of Washington), Nora Broy (researcher at BMW) and Chee Lee Cheong (undergrad exchange student at UNH ECE). They asked many questions and were quite engaged in the ensuing conversations. I am confident that they left the conference feeling that science and engineering can be exciting careers (and Michelle agrees).
This morning I discussed distracted driving research with students at Noble High School in North Berwick, ME. I was there at the invitation of David Parker who teaches physics. This year David and his students are exploring vehicle safety as part of their introduction to various aspects of physics.
Every time I talk to pre-college students, I want to communicate the idea that scientific research is exciting. With David’s students this was easy. From the beginning of my visit they were engaged in our conversation and they displayed critical thinking skills. I am sure this is gratifying for David and his Noble High School colleagues – their efforts are paying off.