130 young girls filled NIPSCO and NiSource's Merrillville Headquarters in celebration of Engineering Week with dozens of teams of both NIPSCO engineers and girl scouts working together to create their own devices.
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This day was part of NIPSCO's DAWN program who's goal is to recruit, retain and accelerate the development of women at NIPSCO and serve as a voice to increase understanding and awareness of inclusion, diversity, and culture. Each of the girl scouts ranged from grades kindergarten to fifth grade and had one hour to work with NIPSCO engineers to create a device from materials provided.
"This has been the fourth year we have been doing this with NIPSCO and every time there is one thing that is always so amazing," says Vice President of Programs and Property for the Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Vicki King. "This event always embodies the true meaning of what a 1 to many mentoring model is. We serve 60,000 girls and we don't have enough for a one on one form of mentoring. This event allows the girls to work immersively and develop a spark for engineering."
King credits the NISPCO female engineers for showing young girls the details and benefits of pursuing engineering and for fighting against the loss of interest girls experience with STEM-related careers.
"Individual engineers work with each group of girls and they are able to work, see and hear what kinds of things these engineers do," says King. "Research has shown that girls and boys typically like STEM subjects equally until the 5th or 6th grade where external forces push girls away. We are trying to bring them together again."
For NIPSCO Director of New Business Dee Cota, working together with the Girl Scouts is just one of many ways that giving back to the community has been a major part of company culture.
"We've been involved with the Girl Scouts for many years and as an engineering company, we are always looking for talent in math and science," says Cota. "We thought this would be great for young women looking for what to do when they grow up and to plant the seed in their mind that this is a field they want to be in as well as show what happens at NIPSCO."
"Having the ability for young girls to have hands- on experience building things as well as help from other engineers to not only assist and guide them but to help them understand what they do with their jobs. "Later on, we have other interactive events like interactive sessions with engineers where the girls can ask questions on how these engineers got started and can learn that there are so many more engineering opportunities that they never knew about."
"Events like this are considered imperative to give back to our community," says Cota. "It's part of our culture, we are a public service that exists to serve the community and our culture reflects that here."