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Dominion is one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in America. The company operates one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems.
The electric company serves retail energy customers in 14 states. According to Dominion’s website, the company was built on a proud legacy of public service, innovation and community involvement.
Dominion annually displayed some of those traits by hosting a session that gave aspiring young engineers a lesson on the business and work that Dominion regularly conducts. The camp for young aspiring women engineers was created back in 1999.
This year, employees at Dominion East Ohio’s Cleveland 55th Street Center invited participants of the University of Akron’s summer Women in Engineering program. There were more than 40 girls, all coming from various Northeast Ohio middle schools.
“Every year Dominion hosts the students from the Summer Experience in Engineering Camp, and every time it amazes me how many young females are interested in a male dominated field,” Porsche Harris, Engineer II at E. 55th said.
According to the Director of the Women in Engineering Program at the University of Akron, Heidi Cressman, the girls are asked to provide a teacher recommendation and an essay in order to attend the camp.
Out of all of those who submit, girls are selected based on interest as demonstrated in their essays and teacher recommendations. There are usually around 50 girls accepted each year.
The program, which encourages interest in the engineering industry careers among women and young girls, has become a valuable learning experience for young women interested in becoming engineers.
“It’s designed to give the girls experience in engineering not really to teach them the basics,” Cressman said. “As with many engineering experiences, they learn to work on a team especially in the labs. They may build an aquifer to demonstrate how pollution affects our drinking supply or a bridge out of balsa wood.”
Data shows that women engineers are severely outnumbered, which is why Dominion is making a conservative effort to attract more women into the field of engineering. Currently, around 21% of all engineering students are female and only 10% of female engineering graduates remain in the field.
“Dominion’s hope in supporting the program is that young girls who participate will find inspiration to pursue a career within the engineering industry,” Harris said.
Donald MacBride, Gas Safety and Training Specialist at E. 55th, was the instructor of Gas 101, a class that focuses on natural gas basics. There a handful of student volunteers that participated in experiments in front of the rest of the class.
Outside of the classroom, Mike Ickes and Matt Drews, Dominion Gas Safety and Training Specialists, showed the students how to fuse plastic pipes and locate natural gas leaks in common household appliances.
The students helped them in differentiating between strong and weak pipe fusions while also locating gas leaks using soap-water bubbles.
“I find it very rewarding to help encourage young females to stay interested in engineering,” Harris said.
Recently, the Dominion Foundation awarded the program $5,000 to support its efforts. The hope is to attract young girls to learn more about the company and to teach them skills that could potentially lead them to becoming an engineer.
“Dominion has recognized the importance of diversity in the workplace and will continue to be a wonderful contributor of the Women in Engineering summer camps for many years to come,” Cressman said.