Courtesy of Nitsch Engineers
Engineer Christine Breen boosts industry's prospects to students, ages 10 to 18.

Avery Elementary School, an $18-million project in Dedham, Mass., was the site on March 14 for a hands-on classroom in which 150 middle- and high school girls learned how engineering directly affects their world and about the potential for a career in the industry. In the annual program sponsored by Nitsch Engineering, female professionals shared their passion for the work and the challenges of doing technical jobs that involve teamwork.

This year's event—co-sponsored by Consigli Construction, WSP Flack + Kurtz, GEI Consultants and the Engineers Design Group—showed students how different engineering skills are applied inside and outside a building, including, for example, traffic flow and stormwater management, says Nitsch President Judith Nitsch. Jennifer Rand, a Consigli assistant project manager, told the girls about green building and how many materials for the project—the state's first LEED Gold elementary school—had to come from within 500 miles of the site.

Nitsch notes the students' curiosity and enthusiasm, adding that past attendees have gone on to study engineering at MIT, Boston University and the U.S. Naval Academy, among other top schools.

"It was cool talking to people and asking questions about watershed management," says Jenna Glen Wixson, 13, of Kittery, Maine. "I don't know what I want to do in the future, but now I know something about engineering when I didn't really know anything before."