As part of Lehigh's CHOICES program (Charting Horizons and Opportunities in Careers in Engineering and Science), the girls built containers to protect their eggs from the fall. Most of the eggs—including one that was affectionately named "Bob"—survived, thanks to industrious young minds at work.
CHOICES is one way Lehigh is working to close the gender gap in engineering. Currently, only 10 percent of working engineers and 20 percent of engineering students nationally are female. The CHOICES program returned to Lehigh this year after a four-year hiatus.
By introducing girls to engineering early with fun, creative projects such as edible asphalt cookies, homemade funny putty, and the egg-protection device, Lehigh hopes to inspire the girls to pursue engineering as a career.
"Middle school age is the critical time to interest young women and men so they can properly plan for their high school curriculum," says Mohamed El-Aasser, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh.
Lori Shuler '03, a computer engineering major and president of the Society of Women Engineers, personally knows the impact of programs such as CHOICES.
"One of the reasons I feel so strongly about CHOICES is that I participated in a very similar program when I was in high school, and it was a large influence on my decision to pursue engineering," she says.
Judging by the enthusiasm and smiles demonstrated by the middle school students who participated in CHOICES Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of the girls back in a few years—as Lehigh engineering students.