High school girls shadow Sac State STEM students, professors


Robby Sanchez - The State Hornet

High School students participate in a concrete mixing lab for Women’s Shadow Day on March 2, 2018 at Sacramento State. Sac State has the only collegiate section of the Society of Women Engineers that holds this event.

Robby Sanchez

The Society of Women Engineers at Sacramento State held its fifth annual Women’s Shadow Day on campus on March 2.

Sac State has the only collegiate section of the society that holds the event, which hosts high school girls interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors.

The participants get to see what it is like to be a college student for a day, attending various hands-on labs based on their interest in STEM, particularly in the engineering and computer science fields.

Lorenzo M. Smith, the dean of engineering and computer science, opened the day with a welcome keynote speech.

Instead of focusing on the conventional “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, Smith took a different approach, asking the audience members how they would like to help people with their careers.

Smith went on to tell the story of a little boy born months premature and who wasn’t given long to live.

That boy was Smith’s son, now a healthy 18-year-old, thanks to many technological advancements in STEM fields.

Smith used this story to illustrate to attendees that their work in engineering and computer science can save lives.

“One of the things we all share in common is that we all want to help people,” Smith said.

Throughout the day various labs were conducted, including a hydraulics lab and a programming lab that gave the high schoolers some hands-on experience in a college setting.

The workshops held were run by volunteer Sac State students and professors.

“I thought the labs were really interesting,” said Sorina Munteanu, a senior at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Science in Rancho Cordova. “I enjoyed creating my own bridge simulation as well as working with hydraulic jumping.”

Jessie Forman, the president of the society at Sac State, said she was happy to give this hands-on experience to high school girls wanting to be in the engineering or computer science fields.

“I think it’s really exciting that they get to see what real engineering is like,” Forman said. “A lot of people walk into the major or don’t because they don’t know what it is.”

Jana Collins, a teacher from River Valley High School in Yuba City, said that since she has graduated college she has not seen any growth in the number of women in most STEM fields.

With the under-representation of women in STEM fields, days like this are crucial to adding gender diversity to these majors, she said.

“I think it’s important that the girls get a chance to see other women instructors and interact with the students and get to see what it might be like and the challenges,” Collins said.