Ariana Harmon (L) and Wynona Olson (R) set up two cars with eggs in them at the top of the ramp to see if the eggs will survive the ride down the ramp, with blocks at the end of the ramp, without being broken Thursday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
Ariana Harmon (L) and Wynona Olson (R) set up two cars with eggs in them at the top of the ramp to see if the eggs will survive the ride down the ramp, with blocks at the end of the ramp, without being broken Thursday. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
Fifty-two Edgewood Middle School girls were able to participate in the third “Forget Princess, I want to be an engineer” event Thursday.

Project Lead The Way teacher Abbi Richcreek said the event could not be put on last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is just a way for females to have a little bit of a glimpse of what engineers do,” Richcreek said.

During the event, students participate in a hands-on engineering challenge.

Richcreek said the 52 students were put into groups of three or four and were paired with one of 14 mentor engineers for the challenge.

The challenge was to take two eggs, put them in a wooden car and have them go down a ramp and hit a block. The goal is to have the eggs not crack.

Some of the rules Richcreek gave the students included they could not glue the eggs into the cars and they could not use supplies to slow the car down.

Richcreek said the groups had 25 minutes to complete the challenge before they were tested.

“Everyone has the same amount of supplies, time and resources and then we’ll actually test it. And the eggs, or the ‘passengers,’ that survive get a special prize and the ones that don’t ... you know, it happens. It’s why we have tests and more tests and it’s a fun activity, there’s no grade associated with it. It’s just having fun and seeing if your design works,” Richcreek said.

“I kind of thought of an idea to get kids interested in a one-time activity so they’re not like ... they don’t want to take a class, so I developed this idea because it’s just a glimpse. And we have student resource time and I thought that was an excellent time to provide this enrichment to students,” Richcreek said.

She talked with Jen Molinda from Zimmer Biomet and the president of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in northeast Indiana. Richcreek told her it would be nice to have a sponsor so they could buy T-shirts to make more of a lasting impression. Richcreek said Molinda said she’d love to do an activity.

Molinda said she participated in another event at the Warsaw Area Career Center (WACC) with Richcreek and they wanted to continue to do something every year, even on a smaller scale, and that’s how the “Forget Princess, I want to be an Engineer” event got started.

She said SWE is always doing altruistic events in the area. She was happy to see the event back this year.

Richcreek does the planning and gathers all of the supplies, Molinda said. SWE provides monetary support and  professional volunteers. Not all the engineers that participated in Thursday’s event were from SWE, some were from local companies around the area, including Honeywell, Paragon Medical and Zimmer Biomet.  

Richcreek said she really wants the mentors to connect with the students and encourage them to follow their dreams, whether that’s in engineering or some other career pathway. She also hopes students learn not everything in life is perfect and to always try.

Molinda said middle school is a great age to get professional female engineers in front of female students who are interested in being engineers.

“It’s a really formative time in where they take the classes they want to take in high school” to prepare for college, Molinda said. It also introduces students to engineering, especially those students who don’t have parents or family members in the field.

Sarah Lockridge, DePuy, said she started out at the WACC in the ’90s in CAT design and it was really important to now pay it forward.

Selom Kugbe, Zimmer Biomet, said she really didn’t know about engineering until she was applying for college and she found it very interesting. She got involved in the “Forget Princess, I want to be an Engineer” event because she feels if she was exposed to engineering at an earlier age, she would have tried to do more as part of middle and high school in order to be ready for college.

WACC student Sydney Langhorn said she participated in the event when she was in eighth grade, and Richcreek was such an influence in Langhorn’s life that she was inspired to take more classes.

Chat Hadley, WaterFurnace International, said she was born in Nigeria and she wishes she had  exposure to engineering growing up, but she didn’t. However, she did get involved in SWE while in college and that was very encouraging for her.

Monica Rozelle, DePuy, said she always liked to work with students in order to inspire them so they can see her as an example that it is possible to be a female in the engineering field. She was born on the south side of Chicago and raised by hard-working parents and it’s definitely doable if students have the right support system and put in the work. She was glad to be part of programs like Thursday’s event.