Introduce a Girl to Engineering

March 6, 2014

The engineering workforce needs more women

Girls go to college to get more knowledge. Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.

While the number and percentage of female engineers has roughly tripled over the past 20 years, only 15% of the current engineering workforce comprises women, according to recent numbers from ASME (

We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so much farther to go.

On Friday evening, March 7, Siemens will hold “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” at its facility in West Chicago, Illinois, from 5 to 8 pm. The event, now in its 10th year, will be hosted by the six female engineers at the Siemens plant, the same plant I blogged about more than two years ago when it completed a significant upgrade to its equipment and processing (

In 2011, Siemens invested approximately $10 million in the plant to modernize operations. It uses its own high-tech PLM design software to configure motor control centers virtually and collaborate with team members and customers globally through drawings and 3D product simulations before the product is manufactured. This aligns the company with the President’s recent announcement of the new Advanced Manufacturing Institute in Chicago, which I also just blogged about this past week (

Siemens ( is focused on improving the number of female engineers globally. As an international organization, it has doubled the number of women in its management to almost 8,000 over the past 10 years. Roughly a quarter of the Siemens global workforce is female, and that percentage is growing, with about a third of its 34,000 new hires in 2013 being women.

The purpose of the event is to help girls to learn about an engineering career. Girls who attend will complete several fun experiments associated with different engineering disciplines. Other highlights will include watching a short video about engineering and a factory tour. The event will be supported by 50 volunteers.

What makes this year’s celebration unique is the return of one of the plant’s 2006 participants, Elizabeth Drennan, now a senior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She is about to complete her degree in computer engineering. She also participated in a summer internship with Siemens in 2012.

“Having women in the engineering brings a diversity of experience and thinking to our plant,” says Jayne Beck, engineering manager at the plant. “Diversity means that people have different ways of approaching things, and this brings a lot of value to the company.”

Crystal Cristescu, for example, joined Siemens as an electrical engineer in the motor control order engineering department in 2007. “She learned this complex product very quickly and was promoted to a technical services position for Siemens at another facility,” says Beck. “Recently, Crystal continued her career advancement and has returned to the motor control business in an application engineering position. Crystal's excellent technical background and broad experience make her an excellent example of the strong engineering culture at Siemens.”

If you’re still not convinced about women's role in engineering, check out these conversations with Meehan Lenzen at GE Aviation (

Programs similar to “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” are taking place at several major Siemens locations around the United States. In Atlanta, for example, Siemens partners with the Society of Women Engineers at Georgia Tech.

Siemens West Chicago facility is located at 1500 West Harvester Road in West Chicago, just off Highway 64. The facility was opened in 1969, and today it manufactures motor control centers, switchboards, enclosed controls, and definite purpose contactors.

Here’s the schedule of events. If you have a daughter or know a girl who might be interested, please help them to attend.
4:15-5:00 pm Arrivals/Check In
5:00-5:40 pm Presentation
5:40-6:50 pm Plant Tour
6:50-7:10 pm Activities (Siemens Tower, Tin Foil Boats or Wind Turbines, Airplanes)
7:10-7:30 pm Tin Foil Boats or Wind Turbines
7:45-7:55 pm Competition
7:55-8:00 pm Closing Remarks

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