Starting this week, 25 middle school girls from the Waukesha School District will spend an energetic week exploring the fun of hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and initiating mentoring relationships with women in STEM careers. The week-long learning program, GE Girls at MSOE, is sponsored by GE Healthcare Women’s Network in collaboration with Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and the Waukesha STEM Academy.
“Studies show that while a majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM, they don’t prioritize STEM fields when thinking about future careers. Furthermore, girls express that they don’t know a lot about STEM careers and opportunities,” says Dee Mellor, GE Healthcare’s Vice President and Chief Quality Officer, and executive champion of the GE Women’s Network, an employee group that provides leadership development, advancement and career broadening opportunities. “With help from our partners, the GE Women’s Network is working to foster lasting interest in STEM among girls in our community and share our enthusiasm for these fields.”
This is the first time this program is taking place in Milwaukee. This summer, GE is also conducting GE Girls at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Massachusetts for the second consecutive year and GE Girls at Rensselaer (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in New York for the first time.
In Milwaukee, students will be bused daily to MSOE where they will gain instruction from two Waukesha STEM Academy teachers and MSOE faculty. Daily lessons will focus on construction, programming, electronics, healthcare and chemistry. The exclusive GE Healthcare curriculum includes activities featuring medical technologies, physiology and biomedical engineering. Girls will have the opportunity to experiment with X-ray physics, operate ultrasound technology, and measure metabolic function with real medical devices. Before the week is over, each program participant will also meet an accomplished female mentor from the GE Women’s Network, primarily with engineering or technology backgrounds.
“Getting more girls on board with STEM requires deliberate strategies on the part of educators to connect learning with real-life experiences,” said Principal Ryan Krohn, Waukesha STEM Academy. “Teaming with GE Healthcare and MSOE creates a wonderful opportunity to show our participating students how classroom math and science can translate into higher education and rewarding careers.”
Interested sixth- and seventh- graders applied this spring, and participants were selected by Waukesha Public School faculty. GE worked with MSOE to develop curriculum and exercises.
“The GE Girls at MSOE program enables us to reach girls during their middle school years, before many of them start losing interest in math and science,” said Olga Imas, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at MSOE. “It would be incredibly satisfying to see any of these girls again as MSOE students someday.”
GE Healthcare has a long history of supporting education in the Milwaukee area through a host of GE Volunteer efforts, the GE Foundation grant to Milwaukee Public Schools, and an annual Community Service Day. GE Girls at MSOE is another way GE Healthcare is investing in the greater Milwaukee community.