Inside Rensselaer
* High School Girls Explore High-Tech Careers at "Design Your Future Day"

High School Girls Explore High-Tech Careers at “Design Your Future Day”
Jessica Otitigbe
Senior Communications Specialist

More than 300 10th- and 11th-grade girls from the Capital Region, New York state, and across New England participated in Rensselaer’s annual “Design Your Future Day” program on Saturday, April 17. The event is designed to engage students in activities to inform and excite them about degree programs and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines.

“According to a January 2009 population survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, women comprise 46 percent of the civilian labor force that is 20 years old or older,” said Barbara Ruel, director of Rensselaer’s Diversity and Women in Engineering programs and program director of the day’s events. “Yet the most current data from a National Science Foundation report in 2003 indicated that only 11 percent of all engineers in the labor force were women.”

“Rensselaer is working to change that,” Ruel added. “Design Your Future Day gives young women the opportunity to explore intellectually stimulating and exciting degrees and careers in math, science, technology, and engineering and to meet young women like them who have already chosen to pursue such careers.”

The event is hosted by Rensselaer’s School of Engineering and sponsored by Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and the Gene Haas Foundation. The 14th annual program featured a welcome address by Danielle Desalu ’01, who serves as a systems engineer for Cisco Systems’ Technology Solutions Organization based in Herndon, Va.

The event also featured a panel discussion by undergraduate scholars, poster presentations by undergraduate researchers, and 14 workshops led by Rensselaer faculty, staff, and graduate students. Workshops included topics on: materials science and engineering; lighting; embedded control systems; the design, manufacture, and use of medical devices, prosthetic limbs, tissues, and organs; art and games with computer animation; nuclear engineering; intellectual property and patent law; and manufacturing candy boxes.

The program provided a parallel schedule for parents, and included an interactive discussion with representatives from Admissions and Financial Aid, the Career Development Center, the Office of the First-Year Experience, the Dean of Students Office, and Residence Life.

Since its inception, more than 3,000 female students have participated in the Design Your Future Day program. In addition, Rensselaer graduates have gone on to pursue careers such as product design engineers, systems design engineers, business analysts and consultants, mechanical and aeronautical engineers, medical researchers, biomedical device engineers, doctors, patent attorneys, architects, and Naval officers.

For more information and to view the 2010 Design Your Future Day program, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 8, April 30, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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