WQAD: Deere Engineers Help to Inspire Davenport Students

Friday, February 25, 2011
There's a push to keep the best and brightest minds right here in the Quad Cities. For the community to grow, it needs to attract young professionals to work here. That's why teenage girls are discovering a world of opportunities.

The Putnam Museum looks more like an engineering lab these days. That's where some 50 Davenport eighth graders worked with engineers from Deere & Company on Thursday. It's "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day."

"I remember not too long ago, they were saying girls can't do stuff," said Sarah Walsh, 13, a student at Sudlow Intermediate School. "Now, they're opening all these careers for all girls."

Careers that start by sparking youngsters like Sarah. In this case, working with Deere mentors to protect a potato chip. It's an exercise that takes teamwork, brain power and coordination.

"I didn't really know much about being an engineer," said Alexis King, 14. "I wanted to come see how it was and explore my options."

Deere & Company hopes to inspire the next generation of engineers. And with plans to double the Moline-based manufacturer by 2018, it will create plenty of opportunities.

"Only 8% of girls are really interested in pursuing engineering careers," said Anne Ryerson, a product safety engineer for Deere & Company. "We want to expand that."

Stats show that just 18% of engineering jobs are filled by women across the country.

"We've been tasked by industry to get females involved," said Kim Glenn, Iowa State University. "Industry wants that, so they can have an equal balance of ideas."

Youngsters are finding out there's a lot of potential with these high-tech careers. In a few years, it will help to grow the Quad Cities workforce.

"They see what all the engineers do," said Isabella Adrales, 14. "They might think they want to do that, too."

While one experiment involved a water test, eighth graders are learning about careers.

"It's really fun," said Lexi Brandhaggen, 14.

Fun for these girls to learn about engineering.

"I think it would be cool to have someone that came out of the Quad Cities that became a really famous engineer," Brandhaggen concluded.

Dreams from Deere that are helping to build the future with engineers.

Watch the video to see alumna Anne Ryerson (BSE 2000 electrical and computer engineering).