UWM engineering camp offers hands-on opportunities for high school girls

Jennifer Walter:

On the fourth day of EnQuest, Chris Beimborn stopped 20 campers outside a classroom in University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Engineering and Mathematical Sciences building for an announcement.

“We’ve got bad news,” she said. “The 3D printer failed overnight.”

The campers were supposed to make casting patterns in a foundry on Wednesday, but they couldn’t do it without the 3D-printed pieces — and it would take 15 hours to make new ones.

Like engineering projects in the real world, things don’t always go as planned.

“This is sort of what happens all the time when you’re working on a project that has a lot of facets,” Beimborn said.

What’s important is the ability to be flexible.

Beimborn coordinates EnQuest, a six-day engineering camp exclusively for high school girls. Campers work on real-world projects and network with college students and professionals from an array of engineering-related disciplines.

The camp seeks to inspire more women to pursue STEM and engineering disciplines. Beimborn gives opportunities for the girls to design and build projects themselves and gives them some autonomy to choose what they want to do in a day.