The Answers Were Blowing in the Wind
When it comes to building wind turbines and generating energy, middle school girls rock. The twenty-two participants in BRCC’s first-ever Girls Embracing Mechatronics Systems (GEMS2) science camp learned a variety of mechanical, electrical, and aerodynamic concepts to get them thinking about STEM careers.
“Girls need to find interests in engineering and sciences at their age especially,” said Lisa Birchler of Fishersville, parent of Ariana, a rising eighth grader. “The program gives them a way to explore as girls and find what their true science field may be in the future. I am amazed by what she learned! ”
Mechatronics is a fairly new Associate Degree program offered by the College that blends mechanical systems, instrumentation, electronics, robotics, automation, computers, and control systems used in highly automated manufacturing processes. Many local employers have expressed a need for employees with this type of training and education, so the job outlook is bright.
GEMS2 was fully funded by the BRCC Educational Foundation’s Engineering Technologies Fund, making the entire week-long camp free to all participants.
Instructors Bob Zickefoose and Matt Goss enjoyed the classroom dynamic created by this age group of students. “The group was very energetic as a whole,” said Goss. “Females bring a different approach to problem solving to the table. I noticed that many ideas were put on the table, and each one was discussed till the best plan was revealed.”
Participants gave the camp high marks on the evaluation form. “It’s fun to build and see how things work,” said one.
BRCC and many other colleges are doing more outreach to younger populations of students to spark their interest in higher education. “It is never too early to start thinking about college and careers,” said Dr. Bob Young, BRCC Vice President of Instruction and Student Services.