Johns Hill Magnet School students Lydia Knuffman and Claire Peters and other seventh-grade girls were given an assignment: assemble a set of gears, wheels and other pieces creating a mechanism that moved freely.
"I saw it like a puzzle,” Peters said. “But those are easier because they are made for kids. This was harder.”
Knuffman and Peters quickly found they were given a faulty project. “It was just rolling weird and skipping everything,” Knuffman said.
The project was facilitated by Rich Eirhart, a Caterpillar manufacturing engineer. With Eirhart's help the group learned a simple solution. “To make it work better, one of the gears needed to be bigger,” Peters said.
Eirhart and more than 40 other Decatur Caterpillar employees volunteered during the annual "Introduce a Girl to STEM Day." About 80 seventh-grade girls from Decatur public schools visited the facility Thursday to learn more about their potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
This was the third year for the event, which is sponsored by Caterpillar's employer resource group WIN, or Women's Initiative Network.
“It focuses on getting women more involved in engineering and making sure we are promoting diversity in all that we do,” said Kevin Wood, CPI Blackbelt for Motor Graders Caterpillar.