Duran Junior High student Bailey Lambert has been around engineering all her life. Most members of her family, she said, are either builders or ironworkers. Her dad owned a metalwork company, and both her older brothers have found their way into similar work.
She’s not sure what she wants to do for a career yet, but she’s leaning toward something that keeps both her brain and body active, something “hands-on” that keeps her “up and moving.” Earlier this week, Alabama Power gave Lambert another opportunity to see if engineering might fit that description.
On Feb. 10, Alabama Power’s iCan program visited Duran Junior High for the third time during the 2014-2015 school year. The program is aimed at exposing female middle school students to the field of engineering through hands-on training exercises.
About 20 eighth-grade students, including Lambert, are part of the group that meets in the library. They listened to a brief presentation from volunteers, female engineers from Alabama Power’s Eastern Division in Anniston, before diving into a project. This week, they explored mechanical engineering by learning to craft a “grabber” out of paint stirrers, nuts, bolts, washers and glue.
Jacki Thacker, a communications specialist with Alabama Power’s Eastern Division Office, said the program is designed to educate female students on the wealth of career possibilities available to them in the fields of math and science. In essence, iCan is a recruiting tool for the technical world.
“The world needs engineers,” Thacker said. “They’re involved in everything around us from our streets to electronics to our makeup. At Alabama Power, engineers make up most of our workforce.”
Thacker said besides Duran, Alabama Power’s iCan program is being conducted at four other schools in the area, but Duran is the only school in St. Clair County to offer it. She said at those schools, “90 percent of the girls we ask say they want to be a nurse or a teacher.”
Around one of the tables at the iCan program, Bailey and her friends nod their heads in agreement when asked if the case is similar at Duran Junior High. Bailey said she’s the only female student in the school’s engineering club this year.
“I always though engineering was a man’s world,” Thacker said. “But at Alabama Power, our female engineers are numerous, and through the programs they have a great to become managers.” For more on Alabama Power’s iCan program, visit icanengineer.com.