logo oneWhat better way is there to get someone’s attention than with cookies? Not even the Girl Scouts are immune. And while cookies are awesome, as we all know (and probably too well), engineers at GoEngineer wanted to use that theme to drive home the idea of what an awesome career there is to be found in their field–and it can start with fascinating skillsets like 3D printing.

The Girl Scouts organization has blossomed into a venue for teaching young females not only about business and straight-up simple economics but also how to evolve into leaders in this modern world. First established in 1952, the Girl Scouts have progressively moved with the times, from their elementary ‘Brownies’ program to ‘Ambassadors,’ where girls begin to learn about not only college but also political issues, as well as gaining opportunities to travel.

Recently, a troop of eight- to nine-year olds traveled to Santa Ana, CA from their hometown of Irvine to check out an engineering firm in action. The Girl Scout troop was able to really see a day in the life there, as well as learning about 3D printing practices firsthand. Demonstrations like what the girls saw at GoEngineer are exactly the key to getting young people–and more specifically, girls–interested in the field of engineering. With the 3D printer in front of them, enthusiasm and questions abounded.

“11 troop members, aged only 8-9yrs old, were all but shy when it came to being an engineer for the day,” reported Jessica Skorut, marketing associate for GoEngineer. “They excitedly listened to Jeff Jordan, Applications Engineer at GoEngineer, as he walked them through the SOLIDWORKS design steps of creating a custom Girl Scout cookie.”

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The troop members produced 3D printed Thin Mints in ABS, featuring three different colors

Pulling out all the stops with the well-loved Thin Mint, Jordan showed the girls to the GoEngineer training room where they were each given their own computer stations to design cookies–even including the logos. It was a great project as well as a little role-play in what it would be like to go to work as an engineer for the day–even if they were on a more miniature scale as compared to most of the employees there.

“Some could barely see over their monitors to see Jeff’s presenting screen, but they were undeterred,” said Skorut. “They were engaged and inquisitive about the process.”

After being walked through the elements of design and 3D printing software with SOLIDWORKS, Jordan introduced them to the hardware aspects by sending their cookie designs to the 3D printer. The troop followed him to the GoEngineer 3D Printing Lab where they were able to check out the uPrint 3D printer churning out their models in ABS, featuring three different colors. They were able to check out several of the Stratasys 3D printers through the glass doors, all with great enthusiasm for seeing first-hand what the technology can produce–and it’s certainly true that seeing a 3D print being produced for the first time is mindblowing at any age.

The troop learned about the variety of processes, equipment, and materials involved in 3D printing currently, as well as basics like post processing and learning how to clean the final model. Jordan also addressed design aspects in 3D printing, like negative space, and how the hardware deals with that.

mintAfter a hard day’s work, they of course had the requisite goody bag. The contents were a little different from what one usually sees though, as their gifts included the 3D printed Thin Mint cookies–a memento, as well as a reminder to keep the interest going in 3D printing, engineering, and science as a whole.

“Our Girl Scout troop, all 3rd graders, were fascinated by the process of creating a 3D Girl Scout Cookie from beginning to end,” said Denise Holden, troop leader, thanking GoEngineer for providing such an informative session for the energetic girls. “Also, by being able to take home the finished product, the girls have something to show their families and friends,” said Holden.

As students have historically overall shown less interest, aptitude, and enthusiasm for majors in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), concern has grown in recent years–and enough so that the government has been working with schools nationwide to promote a STEM agenda to get kids involved in what can be very rewarding disciplines intellectually–as well as in the job market after graduation. While, this is one issue–another subset below that one would be that there are even fewer girls and women interested as a general rule.

learningIn the field of engineering, it’s a well-known fact that men far outrank and outweigh the women, with statistics showing that women either aren’t interested in gaining degrees in the male-dominated field–or once they get there, they leave for various reasons that are currently being studied. It’s not an issue being overlooked, according to the National Society of Professional Engineers, and if the country–and the world in general–is to produce more degreed professionals in the STEM areas, obviously we want girls and women on board. This would most especially be important in the light of growing statistics showing that women tend to be more inclined to have college degrees than men these days, but disproportionately not in engineering or science-oriented disciplines, according to the National Science Foundation.

Pulling together all the elements of what it takes to not only get a group of kids interested but to really show them comprehensively some of the amazing things they can start learning now and carry all the way through getting an engineering degree and on to a career, GoEngineer did a great service in terms of highlighting how interesting a job can be for a woman in engineering.

Do you work with women in the field of engineering? How do you think children can best be spurred on to gain interest and enthusiasm in STEM areas? Discuss in the Girl Scouts 3D Print Cookies at GoEngineer forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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