Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: January 15, 2009

For More Information: Brenda J. Rayner, 901-333-4247


Southwest Helps Tipton County and Millington Girls Scouts Get Jump-start on Male Dominated Career Paths

Southwest Tennessee Community College partnered with Lurgi, Inc, an engineering and procurement firm in Memphis, Tennessee, to provide a workshop on non-traditional career paths for Tipton County and Millington, Tennessee, Girl Scouts on January 10 at the Southwest Macon Cove Campus. Girl Scouts ranging mostly between 8th and 10th grades participated in hands-on experiments/demonstrations facilitated by Southwest faculty.

Associate Professor of Engineering Technology, Lisa Jones, opened the workshop with an overview of technology, science and the educational opportunities at Southwest. Sessions included activities in computer integrated manufacturing systems, CNC simulation, and robotics; graphics arts; circuit board development and soldering; paper chromatography; and simple Web page design. A mechanical engineer from Lurgi also gave a presentation on 3-D modeling.

The purpose of the workshop was to expose the girls to technical and scientific fields at younger ages in order to introduce them to alternatives to the traditional female career paths. Ann M. Perry, Girl Scout leader of Junior Troop 859 of Drummonds, Tennessee, said “I think that it is important for girls to realize all the options open to them in life and let them know that girls make great engineers if that path is chosen.” Perry is a process specialist at Lurgi, Inc.

Anir Patel, assistant manager of mechanical design, also of Lurgi, gave insight into the industrial design industry and the opportunities it offers. He explained Lurgi’s support of the workshop for the girls scouts, “As a local engineering firm, we feel that we need to connect young women to engineering right now. Engineering is a male dominated industry, but women are fast becoming a part of it. We just wanted to get the information out that it is an option for them.”

Patsy Fancher, interim department chair of industrial, environmental, and graphic arts technology, indicated that the best way to help girls prepare for non-traditional careers at an early age is to change their mindset. “Actually that mindset comes from the overall community,” she said. “Several years ago if a woman wanted to go into a field like automotive technology, the response would have been ‘Oh! No! You can’t do that. That’s not feminine.’ … We are trying to change the mindset to let girls know that it’s okay if you want to be an engineer. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. It simply means that you have an aptitude for that specific career.”

The girls engaged in activities they really enjoyed, such as computer video games designed by Southwest graphic arts students, and more challenging ones, like soldering, that required the use of safety glasses and a steady hand. Girl Scout Lara Landry said she enjoyed playing with the robot – using the robotic arm to drop a box into a cup. “But, I’ll need more practice to master soldering techniques,” she said.

Other Girl Scout Troops attending were Cadette Troop 187 of Atoka, Cadette Troop 430 of Munford, and Cadette Troop 66 of Millington.

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Cutline: Mother and daughter team Lara and Corinne Landry of Millington Girl Scout Troup 66 work on soldering.

Cutline: The robots and soldering stations were the big hits with the girls. These activities challenged their hand/eye coordination.