Engineers and scientists in the U.S. are still disproportionately white and male. Several student organizations at LMU, the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers, wanted to do something about that. On Sunday, April 10, LMU hosted over 100 local students and parents for #ILookLikeAnEngineer, an event designed to break stereotypes about what engineers look like. Through a series of speakers and kid-friendly activities, participants learned about what engineers do and what it takes to become one. Most importantly, they were able to see and meet LMU’s diverse engineering students, and hopefully imagine themselves in their position one day.
Shari Smith, a senior Civil Engineering major and a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, was the chief organizer of the LMU event. She saw an opportunity to collaborate with other engineering student organizations on campus to help break stereotypes in the field.
“I reached out to both groups saying that I wanted to do a kids event in which we will be able to define both what engineers do and encourage kids from all backgrounds to look into engineering,” says Shari. “I would like to send the message that they should not let anyone set limits for them. They can become engineers, doctors, and scientists if they have the desire and drive to do so.”
The organizers worked together to arrange for speakers, and a variety of activities including paper airplane building, bracelet coding, and building construction with GoldieBlox® and Legos® . In addition to providing educational opportunities for young people, the #ILookLikeAnEngineer program created a great opportunity to connect with the community.
Smith explains that, “it has made me happy interacting with [community members] throughout my time at LMU because they have always been embracing of us. The thing I have probably learned most is how much a community can want you to just spend time with them. It has fueled my desire to continue doing so even after graduation.”