XTO Energy Brings ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ STEM Program to Belmont
by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth
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XTO Energy brought its “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” program to Belmont County Schools on Tuesday, as part of the company’s ongoing effort to encourage young women to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – fields.
Middle school girls from Shadyside, Bellaire and Powhatan heard from a number of XTO Energy’s female employees from the area – including several engineers.
The program provided the 50 students with the opportunity to take part in interactive experiments conducted by members of the XTO staff and the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). Through the hands-on problem-solving activities, students were shown how creativity and ingenuity can be used in the classroom, and how knowledge of STEM subjects can lead to rewarding engineering careers.
ExxonMobil and XTO Energy have made it a priority to engage young women and promote STEM education. Since the inception of their “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” in 2003, more than 14,000 students have participated in the program. As XTO Energy’s Karen Matusic told EID, this week’s event in Belmont gave the company the opportunity to expand the tradition, and leave an impression on the young students in the process:
“It was a pleasure working with such bright and enthusiastic students and teachers from the area schools. For XTO and ExxonMobil, it is important to give back to the community and it is our mission to encourage young ladies to consider a career in the STEM field. I think they were impressed to learn that XTO’s president is a woman and to talk to two of our female engineers who grew up in Ohio.”
According to the National Science Foundation, while women represent almost 50 percent of the workforce, they hold less than 20 percent of engineering jobs – 15 percent as of 2015.
The increasing expansion of oil and natural gas development across the Appalachian Basin will continue to afford opportunities in a myriad of STEM-related fields in the energy industry. Additionally, the prolific production coming from the region is drawing new industries to the region, including petrochemical projectsand plastics and chemical manufacturing. These industries, too, will require a vast number of STEM educated specialists. As OGEEP Executive Director Rhonda Reda told EID:
“The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) is dedicated to educating students about science, technology, engineering and math in hopes that one day they will become leaders in our great industry. Today, women fill 47 percent of all jobs in America, yet hold only 24 percent of STEM jobs. XTO Energy’s event yesterday helped engage another 50 bright young females in the Ohio Valley about future careers as engineers, geologists and other technical fields. OOGEEP was honored to be a part of this program, and looks forward to participating in many more educational opportunities like this one in the future.”
Ohio Oil and Gas Association Communications Manager Lyndsey Kleven added:
“Seeing the girls get excited, involved and working together on the science experiments was a truly rewarding experience. They cheered each other on while being friendly competitors to see which team would build the winner project. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association is proud to have members like XTO Energy that organizes community events like this that make an impact while encourage students they can be anything they want to be.”
“Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” is another part of an ongoing effort to aid, engage and excite students about the fields that will be driving the workforce of tomorrow. With opportunities expanding in the region in the years to come, the hope is local students like the young women in Belmont are well-positioned to become future leaders in these vital fields.
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