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“Tour Your Future,” the Carnegie Science Center’s career exploration program, connects girls ages 11–17 with local female STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) professionals in the workplace.   The program introduces girls to a range of job opportunities, from sports medicine and astronomy, to computer science and all disciplines of engineering.   

As a founding partner of the Science Center’s Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development, Duquesne Light was asked to serve as a host organization for a recent Tour Your Future session. When Chris Poshard, Manager, Standards & Specifications, reached out to a group of female DLC engineers, they were extremely excited about planning a tour and activities for the girls.

“The Tour Your Future Event provided us with an opportunity to inspire younger generations to explore STEM related careers,” said Poshard. “The program both engages the students and enables them to explore the various options that are available to them. It was great to see the energy and excitement our group put into this event. I believe the employees had as much fun as the students did. Even after the event, people have approached me with ideas for future activities and ways to include other DLC groups.”

Anna Slobodnyak, Operations Center Engineer I, also saw value in the event, noting, “I think that this program is very valuable, and I know it is something I would have been interested in when I was younger. We were excited to introduce the students to the variety of STEM positions in a utility, as well as share our personal experiences in choosing a STEM career.”

Students Participate in Real-Life Engineering Scenarios
The morning began with a meet and greet in which staff members shared their experiences and successes as women engineers. The group was then divided in half, with one group enjoying a tour of the Distribution Operation Center and the other beginning their assigned activity, which included a real-life scenario where they acted as engineers to power a building while learning how electricity works. They additionally learned how efficiency, time management, resource preservation, teamwork and re-designing for improvement play an important role in engineering. The students also had an opportunity to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map out their circuits.

The Science Center program is terrific!” said Sharrafti Kuzmar, Engineer II. “It’s a great way to get a hands-on education outside of the classroom, but still be surrounded by an academic setting. It seems most of the girls have experience with the program and are using it to help determine which STEM field they want to study in the future. A few girls know they want to be engineers or scientists, however, they are unsure of which focus area they’d like to pursue. One of the biggest benefits of the program was having the girls connect with civil and electrical engineers and GIS analysts on the impact they have within the community the girls live in.”

Slobodnyak conducted the tour of the Operations Center, and indicated she was “thrilled to see how the amazement and wonder on the students’ faces matched my own the first time I saw it. The girls were truly engaged and full of questions, and I was delighted to hear a few declare an increased or new interest in a STEM field at the conclusion of the day.”

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