BY MELISSA WAINAINA
Striving to help and encourage women in leadership, Dr. Chrys Egan is doing more than her day job at Salisbury University.
Although the communications professor teaches courses in pop culture, gender and diversity; she has worked on various research projects and grants that SU students have been a part of.
The “Women in Engineering Grant,” sponsored by Engineering Information Foundation, and supported by SU, is made to encourage young girls who are interstress in math, science and engineering.
The project that Egan is currently working on is called “Engineer Girl”.
The program is a free female only computer engineering initiative. It includes about 24 middle school girls from local middle schools around Wicomico County.
“I thought it was really important to encourage girls, and at this age they are typically doing well in math and science and are very confident in these subjects,” Egan said.
Within the program, the girls will learn basic computer coding, web design, animation programs and a chance to create apps that are phone accessible.
Through learning these aspects of engineering, it will help the young women understand the math and science that goes behind these tools and help push these girls with their ideas.
“Sometimes later on, girls lose their confidence on these areas and feel as though they are not interested, so it was important to get them when they were still engaged and excited and totally open to it, and still great at math and science,” Egan said.
According to Dr. Egan, the computer engineering is done both individually and collaboratively, in a supportive and creative environment here on campus, where the girls meet eight times over eight months.
At the end of the program, their end project of their web or app design will be publicly presented in front of their families and schoolmates at the Engineer Girl Showcase.
There are team leaders and guest presenters, which include staff and faculty from SU, as well as successful professionals from science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, as well as SU student mentors.
“I’m working with two senior computer science majors Noor Shadid and Charles Rusk, they are well trained and they have had internships at places like Google, and they have taught some of these kid-friendly software the girls are working on,” Egan said.
With the passion and drive of encouraging women leadership, it’s the opportunities that pushed Dr. Egan to come up with these research and grant ideas. She just returned from Barcelona, Spain in a conferencing speaking on women leadership, and plans on taking a sabbatical in the spring to do more research and writing.