EngineerGirl ambassador launches design camp for girls

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SAXTONS RIVER — In her role as an EngineerGirl ambassador — one of only 16 high school girls in the country — Vermont Academy student Lauren Eppinger is sharing her love of engineering with younger girls in the area.

"I would like to spark that same interest in younger girls that started me on my path," said the Vermont Academy senior who is a member of the Robotics Team and takes engineering classes. "I would like to help girls see the creative and fun sign of engineering, and how the world around us is full of things that were just solutions to everyday problems."

Eppinger, a resident of Grafton, Mass., was selected by the National Academy of Engineering as one of only 16 high school girls from across the country to serve as an EngineerGirl ambassador. This November, she will attend the Society of Women Engineers annual conference in her capacity as ambassador.

As an EngineerGirl ambassador, Eppinger is committed to designing, developing and implementing a project in her local community to encourage young girls to think about engineering and possible careers in engineering. Her project was a week-long summer "design camp" for 11 middle school girls held in Saxtons River this past week. The sessions were collaborative and creative, and focused on how engineering helps solve real world problems. Eppinger utilized a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam activity, Electronic Textiles, to interest and engage the middle schoolers in exploring core engineering concepts. Students from local public schools and the Kurn Hattin School and some home schooled students participated in the program.

Vermont Academy's Head of School Dr. Jennifer Zaccara described Eppinger as an "intensely vibrant, intellectual, and outgoing individual. She's inspired and inspiring." Not only is Eppinger passionate about the STEM field, but she has also been on the stage, active in athletics, and is someone who can relate to a variety of people, which Zaccara highlighted as one of the many reasons why Eppinger is a campus leader.

"I think what's so exciting is that she can come up with a great concept, turn it into something and then follow through with it," Zaccara said of Eppinger's project. "She's got her eye on where we are going in the future educationally, and I'm excited to see where this project takes her. Vermont Academy is proud to support Miss Eppinger's project."

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Eppinger's passion for science and engineering began at a young age.

"All my life, I have been a tinkerer and problem-solver," she said. "I have tried to view obstacles as opportunities — new ways of approaching things, creating things, thinking about things. I have always liked to work with my hands, and find that I learn better by doing than watching. Until recently, I didn't realize this is much like what engineers do."

Eppinger is able to pursue her passions at Vermont Academy, where she is a member of the Robotics Team and takes engineering classes.

"I would like to spark that same interest in younger girls that started me on my path," she said. "I would like to help girls see the creative and fun sign of engineering, and how the world around us is full of things that were just solutions to everyday problems."

Eppinger partnered with Vermont Academy and Main Street Arts (MSA), both in Saxtons River, to launch the summer design camp. Vermont Academy donated rental space on Main Street for the week-long program, which is utilized during the school year for after-school robotics programming for local students. Eppinger's project sponsor Joe Echanis, a resident of Saxtons River and Vermont Academy alumnus and science faculty member, donated his time to help with the project. MSA added the arts components to the program and donated marketing and advertising assistance.

EngineerGirl was launched in 2001 to bring national attention to the opportunities that engineering represents to girls and women. The website is a service of the National Academy of Engineering. For more information, visit engineergirl.org.


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