High school students visiting UT Dallas for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day got a lab tour, an introduction to some of the technology behind high-tech toys and a thumbnail sketch of the path that brought one faculty member to her current position as an assistant professor of electrical engineering.
Students from Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School in Dallas visited the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas as part of National Engineers Week.
During their tour of Dr. Rashaunda Henderson’s lab, they got a chance to operate two remote-control helicopters while Dr. Henderson explained the difference between one helicopter’s infrared system and the other one’s radio-frequency system. She urged the students to identify the area of study that they enjoyed the most and then dedicate themselves to mastering it. For her that was electrical engineering, and it took her first to Tuskegee University in Alabama and then to the University of Michigan, Motorola Inc., Freescale Semiconductor and UT Dallas.
“Engineering is about developing technology that will be useful for people,” she said, “and I believe women’s unique perspectives and creative insights are imperative to the future of the field.”
An expert on radio-frequency integrated circuits like the ones in cellphones, Dr. Henderson is pursuing research regarding the design and fabrication of microwave circuits and components for wireless applications.
During their visit, the Irma Rangel students also saw several other parts of campus, including the Arts & Technology (ATEC) Motion Capture Lab, where Dr. Midori Kitagawa showed the group how animators capture human movement. Animators, and particularly video game developers, rely on motion capture research because it can produce highly accurate and realistic movement results in a short amount of time. The girls also saw some animations produced in the ATEC program.
The girls also heard remarks from both UT Dallas President David Daniel and the University’s vice president for diversity and community engagement, Dr. Magaly Spector.
“Our first Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was a tremendous success,” Dr. Spector said. “This community outreach program provided us a great opportunity to bring together female engineering students and faculty from UT Dallas and professionals from the Texas Instruments Women’s Initiative to encourage young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
The University’s first Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was a joint project of the Galerstein Women’s Center, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Arts & Technology Program of the School of Arts & Humanities and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, with the support of numerous student groups.