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AN EARLY ADVANTAGE -- EIGHT ENGINEERING FRESHMEN GET A HEAD START WITH SUMMER INTERNSHIP

Eight female freshmen are one step ahead of their peers this fall thanks to the College of Engineering and Technology's Early Engineering Advantage Program (EEAP) - a four-week internship at the university's Full Scale Wind Tunnel designed to enhance the engineering undergraduate experience for women.

Funded by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and sponsored by the college and Old Dominion's Career Management Center, EEAP was created to give female students early exposure to the university and provide them with a unique engineering experience. It is part of the college's Womengineers initiative, an ongoing effort to address the lack of women in engineering through education, recruitment and retention of female students from elementary school through college.

During the program, which ran from July 24 through Aug. 16, the group of young women spent three days a week hearing presentations and getting hands-on experience at the wind tunnel. From learning how to build a racecar to space flight, flight mechanics and basic electrical engineering, the group was able to experience different types of engineering work that first-year engineering students often don't get to see.

"EEAP gave us exposure to the different fields of engineering," said participant Aziza Rashid, a Chesapeake resident and graduate of Catholic High school. "Each day at NASA we had a lecture or a talk from different engineers about their profession."

Virginia Beach resident Jennifer Yount, who graduated from Cox High School, said the program gave her a special advantage. "(The instructors) show us examples of the tools they work with and the products they design. The presentations give us detailed explanations of the different fields of engineering, which clarify any questions we may have had."

An essential part of EEAP was the Friday visits to the Old Dominion campus. There, the eight women met individually with female faculty advisors and sophomore female engineering students who served as peer mentors. Additionally, the women kept a daily journal and completed an academic report.

"The faculty and peer mentors have been wonderful!" said Rashid. "Every question that I had about engineering, and college in general, they were willing to answer in a heartbeat. Thanks to them, I'm no where near as frightened as I was when I first set foot onto Old Dominion."

According to Tom Wunderlich, senior associate director of the Career Management Center, the interns receive a stipend of $11 an hour and one-credit for the program, which will be offered again next year.

"By conducting this program prior to the start of their freshman year, we feel the students will arrive on campus knowing at least seven other female engineering students and most of the female engineering faculty and have a unique intern experience to relate to their new classmates," he said. "This will give them an early advantage in pursuing their engineering career."

This article was posted on: September 5, 2001

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.