In conjunction with National Engineers Week four area groups recently completed an outreach effort designed to encourage girls to explore opportunities in Science Technology Engineering and Math vocations.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, the Pantex Women in Nuclear Organization, the Pantex Outreach and Leadership Organization and the Region 16 Education Service Center partnered on Thursday, hosting just over 300 girls in grades 8 to 12, who attend plenary sessions and participated in interactive presentation booths designed to spur interest in engineering and other technical fields.

Activities focused on civil, mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering, per organizers of the event, which was conducted at the Region 16 Education Service Center. There were also plenary sessions consisting of three panelists interacting with students in a Q & A format, sharing insight regarding academic pursuits, their respective career paths and varied roles and responsibilities.

"Half of the girls were eighth graders and the other half high schoolers," Pantex Engineering Specialist Jen Kelley said. "These are girls who wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to either speak to an engineer or see or know or understand what jobs are available in this field. I love the students and love bringing something to them that's new and something they hadn't thought about before."

Emma Valle is a sophomore at West Texas High School in Stinnett, Texas.

"I have been interested in engineering since I was a little girl," she said. "I love the field and hope to help people in the future. My favorite part was the silicon experiment. We took silicon and added a catalyst to increase the rate of reaction."

Pantex Project Engineer Denise Moore said the initiative helps girls broaden the potential career path thought process.

"I think it's important for our younger generation to understand what their options are, especially women, because engineering is primarily a male field," she said. "I think they should have their options open. Women bring diversity into the field of engineering and have a different perspective. And with that perspective, they can make our country better."