Lori J. Rachul
Next Generation of Executives, Scientists, Engineers and Researchers Nurtured at NASA Glenn
Encouraging young women to acquire skills for success in an increasingly technological world is a challenge that is being met at the NASA Glenn Research Center. A mentoring collaboration between Glenn’s Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) and the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council (GSLEC) is providing girls with exciting and creative nontraditional experiences that equip them to explore the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
The mentoring collaboration is a pilot program—the first such partnership between Glenn and GSLEC—that matches a group of girls with professional women. The program’s goal is to mentor the next generation’s female executives, scientists, engineers and researchers. It is also designed to provide working professionals with a flexible model of volunteerism. Mentors’ participation in this program helps girls to deepen their self-awareness, develop values, relate to others positively and contribute to society.
"Working with NASA mentors and the Girl Scouts is rewarding. The girls are impressive because they are bright and enthusiastic as well as active in track, cheerleading and drama clubs. Some have already expressed interest in pursuing technical careers," said Mary Reveley, Glenn’s coordinator for the mentoring program and WAG member. "The mentors are great, too—their willingness to spend time with the girls and inspire them is impressive."
Mentors not only spend as much time as possible with their girls, they provide the girls with experiences that they wouldn’t get otherwise. The one-on-one interaction with mentors who work in areas such as combustion, propulsion and materials research is unique.
"Students often are surprised to hear that I have studied materials brought back to Earth from the Russian Mir space station or from the Hubble Space Telescope. I hope that my own enthusiasm in working with these materials further prompts their interest in science," said Kim K. de Groh, senior materials research engineer and Girl Scout mentor.
Currently there are 19 Glenn mentors and 23 Girl Scouts in this program. The girls range in age from 11 – 17 and come from two troops: Collinwood Middle and High Schools, located on Cleveland's East Side, and the Esperanza Community Center, located on Cleveland’s near West Side. Mentors come from a broad range of occupations including engineers, mechanics and computer specialists, among others.
The group meets once per month at Glenn and chats on the Internet twice per month. During their visits, the group participates in special activities such as they did last month in attending Glenn’s Women’s History Month Celebration. Visits also include tours of Glenn facilities and hands-on activities. Upon completion of their involvement in the collaboration, the girls will receive their "Space Exploration" badge.
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