NIPSCO hosts 13th Annual ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’

NIPSCO hosts 13th Annual ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’

On Monday, February 19, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) celebrated the 13th annual “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.” For the first time ever, the Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association (NWIIWA) partnered with NIPSCO for this event. The event was open to young girls in second to sixth grade and registration was $5.

This fun-filled event started with a presentation from President of NIPSCO Mike Hooper, who greeted the crowd and informed them of the morning’s upcoming activities. These included a team challenge that had teams of four build a pipeline that allowed a golf ball, egg, and a ball to advance into a basket without letting them touch the ground. The contest was decided by a panel of judges. The teams were judged based on best design, teamwork, creativity, and best engineering.

“The goal is to let them learn a little bit about what we do at NIPSCO but also to spark that general interest in those fields to try to follow through with those young girls. We have a lot of bright minds here and a lot of creativity, and we want to foster that. This is the perfect way for us to do that here at NIPSCO,” said Hooper.

Over the last 13 years, this event has shown a lot of growth. What started as a dream has exceeded expectations and has formed into something that can last as long as NIPSCO wants to take it.

“Today, I think we had close to 70 girls. In years past, we have had as many as 140. When it first started, it was sort of like a handful of tables of girls and then the word got out. Even during the pandemic, when we were virtual, we assembled kits and mailed them out to the kids homes. We have been able to keep this thing going even through a worldwide pandemic. The goal is to get more and more girls interested in these studies,” said Hooper.

To those at NIPSCO, it is extremely important to spark interest early in someone’s life. Of course, they learn about these types of subjects in school, but this gives them an extra day to get hands-on with different projects in the field and explore their creative minds.

“This is a good time to catch them. Typically, if you wait until junior high or high school, folks have already missed those opportunities for developing strong fundamentals and strong ideals around math and science. We want to catch these young ladies early in their educational career – bolster that love for math and science so it carries through high school and then hopefully into post-secondary education,” said Hooper.

In this field of work, there has been a shortage of women compared to the amount of men. This has been an important obstacle that has made events like this necessary. NIPSCO and NWIIWA have been pushing for years for a change, and it is events such as this that have allowed change to come.

“This event is very crucial to educate the girls in Northwest Indiana about STEAM careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. I am an engineer, and I'm very passionate about growing and developing women in science. I believe that this event really gives the girls an opportunity to learn about what we do here at NiSource and NIPSCO so that they can see themselves going into college into STEAM careers,” said Aida Haigh, board member of NWIIWA. “Hopefully, they can come back and see us as a place to work. When I went to college, there were only about three girls in my engineering class. I'm hoping by putting events like these on in our community, we can start educating girls that they have a place in STEAM careers in their lives,”

Over 13 years, there have been so many young girls who have participated in this and have pushed their creative minds to the edge. There has been a rise in women in this field in Northwest Indiana specifically, and some of the credit goes to NWIIWA and NIPSCO.

“Maybe someday we will be able to go back and check the logs and see if any of those girls from way back follow through in a technical field. The goal would be that some of these girls get an interest and end up working at NIPSCO. This is really about driving general interest, that we can be a spark into a young girl's mind and they can go into engineering, or think I can go be a physicist or a scientist or a chemist or some things like that,” said Hooper.

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