Hill Engineering Blog

Hill Engineering meets with the Girl Scouts in Sacramento

In late April, a couple members of the Hill Engineering team participated in a Girl Scouts of America career exploration event with the Sacramento Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Teresa Wong and I headed over to the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California STEM Center + MakerSpace in Sacramento for this fun event.

This event was organized by the Society of Women Engineers Sacramento Valley Section to showcase different engineering fields to Girl Scout troop members from all over the area. The STEM Center + MakerSpace, which is filled with all kinds of maker and design-thinking activities, was the perfect spot for this event.

For our showcase, we led a few groups in making their very own rubberband helicopters. I studied both aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering during my time at UC Davis, so anything that flies has a special place in my heart and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share that with the attendees.

A hand holding a helicopter made from a popsicle stick, rubberbands, tape, and a rectangular purple piece of paper for the body.
A rubber band helicopter

To add a fun design challenge to this, we had different sizes of paper bodies that the girls could choose from, some better suited to flying than others, to see how well one shape performs versus the others. For this specific helicopter design, there was an optimal shape that supplied the right amount of lateral drag without adding too much weight that would make it fly the best.

It was exciting to see the participants experiment with their designs, trying one out, making changes, and trying again, just like design engineers in industry do for their projects. Some even went off-script and tried multiple propellers, different body shapes, and different component positions to see how they flew.

Other SWE volunteers included people from civil engineering and computer engineering backgrounds, who showed the girls what the inside of a laptop computer looks like and how a water filtration system works. It’s always an enlightening experience for me to connect with people not in our field and learn about what they do, and I hope that the Girl Scouts learned a few new things about these different areas of engineering. Who knows, maybe this event sparked an interest in pursuing a career in one of them.