This week is Engineers Week, which is celebrated in February of each year, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day always falls during Engineers Week. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2017 fell on February 23 this year, and since “Girl Day” is very important to Tata & Howard, we decided to celebrate the day by inviting local middle school girls to come into the office for a special event. The evening was a great success – and also quite a bit of fun!
In the engineering industry, only 11% of the workforce are women. However, Tata & Howard has always been above this statistic and since the beginning, has striven to recognize the value of women in engineering. Tata & Howard was established in 1992 by Donald Tata, P.E. and Paul Howard, P.E. Initially a two-person firm, the company quickly grew, and out of the first 20 hires, eight were female. This trend continued, and today, 32% of our engineering workforce is female, including the firm’s two co-presidents, Karen Gracey, P.E. and Jenna Rzasa, P.E.
To celebrate our commitment to women in engineering, Tata & Howard hosted an Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day event for local middle school girls at our corporate office in Marlborough, Massachusetts. All of our Marlborough-based female engineers participated with the exception of Maya Rhinehart, who was instead volunteering at Girls Inc. The overwhelming participation of our female engineers exemplifies their commitment to the industry as well as their incredible sense of teamwork and philanthropy.
The evening started with a brief introduction given by Karen, including a story of her experience at the University of Vermont, where she was sometimes the only female in her engineering classes. Justine Carroll, P.E., Project Manager and Team Leader, then presented a slideshow on environmental engineering and talked about the services provided by Tata & Howard, after which the female engineers each shared their personal journeys to choosing the engineering field. The girls then enjoyed a dinner of pizza and salad during which Amanda Cavaliere, Project Manager and Team Leader, led a discussion on the value of great teachers.
Once dinner was finished, the girls participated in a water tank building activity with some of our female engineers. Each group was given supplies including a disposable cup, rubber bands, chewing gum, string, drinking straws, paper clips, push pins, and Band-Aids and were charged with building the tallest elevated “tank” that could successfully hold eight ounces of water for 30 seconds. For 30 minutes, the girls brainstormed and built alongside the engineers until their masterpieces were finished. Immediately after, the tanks were tested for their structural stability. Karen poured the water into each of the “tanks” and we started the timer. Unfortunately, neither tank successfully lasted for 30 seconds, but we assured the girls that even engineers who attempted this activity at local trade organizations were unsuccessful. After all – Band-aids and chewing gum are no substitute for concrete and steel! One thing is for sure: there were plenty of laughs during the testing portion of the event.
Each girl was sent home with a certificate of completion and many smiles. The event was a huge success for not only the young girls, but also for the employee-owners who participated, and we are already planning for next year’s Girl Day. How did you celebrate Girl Day or E-Week? Let us know in the comments below – and Happy Engineers Week!