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Daughter Engineering Day showcases STEM to young women

Attendees and their parents pose in front of a red wall.

The goal of Daughter Engineering Day is to showcase the field of engineering and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers to girls in grades six through nine and their parents. Photos by Brandan Haskell.

A group of about 60 young women and about 60 parents arrived at Lafferre Hall on April 14 for the MU College of Engineering’s annual Daughter Engineering Day event.

The goal of the event is to showcase the field of engineering and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers to girls in grades six through nine and their parents. Women are typically underrepresented in engineering careers, and events such as Daughter Engineering Day seek to help grow the number of women in the field by developing an early interest.

Daughter Engineering Day is co-sponsored by the College’s Office of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives and its chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, while Monsanto served as the event’s corporate sponsor.

Students build a spaghetti bridge with dry spaghetti and marshmallows.

The activities included making slime, building a spaghetti bridge, “protect that pill” — an activity that has students simulate creating a coating that will survive the digestive system by using silly putty and soda, competitions between teams of parents and their daughters and more.

Tojan Rahhal, Director of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives and an engineer herself, shared with the participants her favorite mantra: “Being an engineer is like having the keys to every door for your future. You can be and do whatever you want with an engineering degree.”

Participants had the opportunity to hear from speakers, including College of Engineering Dean Elizabeth Loboa and Monsanto representative Toni Wilkins, who shared their journeys of success; interacted with SWE members and faculty; shared lunch with current engineering students at the campus dining hall and participated in a variety of engineering-based activities intended to pique their interest in the various disciplines of engineering. The activities included making slime, building a spaghetti bridge, “protect that pill” — an activity that has students simulate creating a coating that will survive the digestive system by using silly putty and soda, competitions between teams of parents and their daughters and more.

“I think today has gone well,” eighth grader Emma Howell said. “I like that I didn’t actually fail at doing the things. I actually made a bridge that actually held stuff, which is nice. With [the putty], I’ve actually gotten a good consistency, which I somewhat doubted.”

The event is put on free of charge to participants thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Office of Diversity and Outreach Initiatives, SWE and Mizzou Engineering faculty, staff and students. Kate Trauth, Croft associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said events such as Daughter Engineering Day are critical in terms of showing young women that they can be successful engineers by interacting with successful engineering faculty and students.

“Anything that you want to do or anything you see around you is engineering,” Trauth said. “Anything you want to do, you can do through engineering. It is powerful, and it can take you anywhere you want to go.”

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