Northeast Tech hosts event introducing area high school girls to its electrical and pre-engineering programs.

AFTON - More than 30 high school girls were on Northeast Tech’s Afton Campus last week for a special event designed to educate them about the career opportunities available in the STEM field. Known as, “Jobs for the Girls,” the event not only gave the students an inside look at the electrical and pre-engineering programs at Northeast Tech, but it also allowed them to network with women currently working in these industries.

“Twenty years ago, it was incredibly hard to be the only woman in the trade,” said Konnie McDowell of Brent’s Electric in Pittsburg, Kan. “Your generation has it better, because you've been told you can do anything, and the guys your age are aware that you can do anything. It won't be as hard for you as it was for me.”

McDowell was one of the guest speakers in Keith Glenn’s electrical program, and in addition to sharing her professional journey and covering topics like education, licensing and work experience, she also shared her passion for the trade.

“I absolutely love what I do, and that makes a difference,” McDowell said. “The coolest part is when you hook something up, flip the switch and it works. I still get a charge from that.”

After short presentations from McDowell and Monica Dossey with Service Solutions, the girls moved into the shop where they donned safety glasses and began a wiring project. They were assisted by the two guest speakers as well as a few students who are currently enrolled in the electrical program.

“I liked this project because it was hands-on and not just out of the book,” said Morgan Roher of Quapaw.

The students spent a little more than an hour in the electrical shop, and then it was time to visit the pre-engineering classroom for a look at other STEM careers.

Pre-Engineering Instructor Trishia Masterson gave the students an overview of the STEM field before challenging them with a project: constructing a propulsion device to carry a LEGO man along a string that stretched across the room. The students paired up and each team was given a bag of supplies that included items such as balloons, paper clips, tape and a straw. Each team’s approach was a little different, but it was Fairland native Olivia Carpenter’s team that first achieved success.

“I came up with the idea of running the string through the straw to keep it straight, and she came up with how to attach the balloon,” Carpenter said.

Two other Fairland students, Elizabeth Boyd and Kathleen Schertz, learned the value of persistence when, after several unsuccessful attempts, a final modification to their design led to victory.

“We tried, I think, three different times and it didn't move or it spun in a circle. We just keep adding things to it and it finally worked,” said Boyd. “I didn't expect it to move. In fact, I was surprised that it moved.”

Relay Engineer Nishi Ninan, concluded the hour with a presentation about her role as an engineer at GRDA. She shared about her role in GRDA’s daily operations, and she also spoke to the students about her journey to become an engineer.

“I was always interested in working for the utility industry from a very young age,” Ninan said. “I was very influenced by my father, who was a mechanical engineer, and I knew I wanted to major in engineering since I loved math and science.”

Ninan also encouraged the girls not to be discouraged or intimidated by the low number of women in the industry.

“It is true that the percentage of women in the power industry is low,” said Ninan. “But women in the present era have all the opportunity to showcase their abilities and contribute equally.”

About Northeast Tech

Northeast Tech’s campuses are located in Afton, Kansas, Pryor and Claremore. Through its full-time daytime classes, short-term evening classes, and its business and industry services and training, Northeast serves well over 34,000 patrons per year. For more information on any of the classes or training programs available, visit Northeast Tech’s website at www.netech.edu or call 918-825-7040.