NIPSCO & NWIIWA Introduce Girls to Engineering

NIPSCO & NWIIWA Introduce Girls to Engineering

Mike Hooper, senior vice president and president of NIPSCO, works with students on a project.

Many young women throughout Northwest Indiana schools have never experienced what it’s like to work as an engineer, despite all of the great things the industry has to offer. That’s why NIPSCO recently collaborated with the Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association (NWIIWA) to host a special “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event for girls in second grade through sixth grade. During this unique program, about 70 female students had the opportunity to experience all of the positives the engineering field offers for women.

For young people, career exposure during school years is a critical factor that influences the decisions they’ll be making about their futures. The more awareness they have about their options, the more avenues they’ll have for advancement.

The event was held at NIPSCO’s Merrillville location and was organized by the NiSource employee resource group DAWN (Developing and Advancing Women at NiSource). NWIIWA helped to promote the event, generate interest, and incorporate several former Influential Women winners into the lineup of experts that worked with the students.

“There’s no question that women are underrepresented in the engineering field, despite all of the great careers offered by the industry. This kind of event is designed to buck that trend and show more young women that promising futures as engineers is absolutely possible,” said Mary Wright, NWIIWA Executive Committee chair.

Young ladies stand with their pipe segments that were made during the day’s activities.

The students had the opportunity to hear from a panel of female engineers, as well as participate in several engineering-related activities. The students learned about electrical and gas safety, which included an electrified hot-dog and a demonstration of how gas leaks occur in homes, and they also had the chance to get hands-on with lessons about how various types of pipelines are constructed.

“This is our 13th year of holding a girls-in-engineering event, introducing them to areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We want to spark that interest in those fields to try to drive more follow through with those young girls. We have a lot of bright minds in here and a lot of creativity, and we want to foster that,” said Mike Hooper, senior vice president and president of NIPSCO.

Aida Haigh, NIPSCO manager of strategy and risk and president of DAWN, said, “By the time some of the students get into high school, they may already have formed an idea of what they want to do in the future. That’s why this program is designed for elementary-aged students. We want to open their eyes while they’re young, while they have that mindset that girls can be anything they want to be.”

“The hands-on experience is crucial,” Haigh added. “The students become so much more engaged and active during the learning activities. We want to show these girls there is a place for them here in the NWI community where they can be employed as engineers. We would love to employ them.”

Students try on their hard hats and other personal protective equipment.

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