Friday, June 9, 2017

FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception 2017, Part I of IV

At the annual FIRST Robotics Competition in Oklahoma City, high school robotics teams compete. Each year the Society of Women Engineers, Oklahoma City Section, hosts a reception to encourage and empower female team members to pursue engineering, believe in themselves, and support each other.

  • Table mentors who are engineers or college engineering students
  • A panel of speakers (or a speaker)
  • Interaction between team members and engineers
  • Relevant, interesting information
  • Tasty reception food

The panelists' questions and answers are among three posts along with photos and more.

  • Ask for help.
  • Support each other
  • Classes can be hard; don't be discouraged.
  • Engineering involves field work and variety.
  • Women engineers are not stereotypes.
  • Engineering, highly flexible, offers extensive opportunities.

Jessica Steffan Dano
Building Automation and Energy Services Sales Engineer, TraneJessica graduated from Penn State University in 2013 with a degree in biomedical engineering. Following graduation, she spent two years working as a project engineer for a midstream oil and gas company.

Addison Schwamb, computer engineering minoring in mathematics, Oklahoma Christian University, SWE Freshman Representative

Addison grew up moving all over the country, but she currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Right now, she really enjoys her engineering fundamentals class, where she is building a robot from scratch.

Caroline Heller, SWE OKC Vice President, Assistant Engineer, Olsson Associates

Caroline graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in biosystems engineering. In 2016, she became a certified floodplain manager in Oklahoma. She has experience in water resources, environmental and roadway projects.
Abby Smith, Systems Engineering, University of Oklahoma

Abby expects to graduate in May 2019 and then pursue a master of Business Administration.

Panel Q&A, I-III

1. What is the favorite aspect of your job or classes?

I love interacting with new people and helping my customers run their buildings more efficiently.  Also, I really enjoy that every day is different and that I have control over my schedule.
Jessica Dano, biomedical engineer

My favorite classes are the project based ones, because I can see how far I've come since the beginning of the semester and because I enjoy doing the projects. Right now I am building a robot in one of my classes, and I've really enjoyed that.
Addison Schwamb, computer engineering, Oklahoma Christian University

I love that my job includes field work and site visits. I am primarily behind a computer, but I
welcome the chance to go explore nature.
Caroline Heller, biosystems engineer

One of the best things about my engineering classes here at OU is that I’ve made a lot of friends through these classes. It’s been nice having these friends because they understand the importance of school, so it’s easy to relate to one another and develop friendships. Another thing I like is that I have the same professors and will continue to have them throughout my college career. 
Abby Smith, systems engineering, University of Oklahoma

Dano table-mentoring without a table

2. What is an interesting fact about you or a hobby? (Or more than one) [You are letting them identify with you or know they are just like you.]

I used to own a business where I went to restaurants and made balloon animals! I still bring my balloons out from time to time and it was a great job for me during high school and for college summers.  Now, I love working out and spending time with friends and my husband and puppy! I also love to craft occasionally as well!
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

My hobby is choir; I sing in the University Chorale which is great stress relief.
Addison Schwamb, OCU

I enjoy baking, mostly cookies and desserts. I’m always on Pinterest looking for new recipes to try! I also have a German Shepherd, Katy, who loves belly rubs!
Caroline Heller, engineer

An interesting fact about me is that I graduated high school with 41 other classmates in Fairview, a rural town in northwest Oklahoma. One thing I enjoy doing outside of school is to run.
Abby Smith, OU

Engineers volunteering at the Women in Stem Reception

3. Many people have a stereotype that engineers are crazy, stuffy old male scientists. In your experience, what do other engineers and/or engineering students do and look like? [Make a connection that women engineers are breaking the stereotypes.]

I majored in biomedical engineering at Penn State and had a really great core group of girlfriends. This group of friends has gone on to do so many different things. A couple work for consulting companies and are helping companies increase performance, a couple are going through medical school and will be incredible doctors in the near future, and I even have two friends who have had international opportunities and have lived and worked in Europe.  As an engineer, I am working in technical sales. Female engineers are everywhere from construction/manufacturing industries to medical school to law school!
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

Most engineering students I know are regular college students, though they do tend to be a little on the nerdy side. I have several female engineering role models, however, who always impress me with how intelligent, put-together, and professional they are all the time.
Addison Schwamb,OCU

At my office, most of the engineers are designing roads and bridges using several computer programs. Most engineers are adult males- some young, some old, mostly white, but also some international men as well.
Caroline Heller, engineer

The stereotype of women engineers is that all of us are nerdy, anti-social, and awkward, however, this is far from who we are. There are so many different types of women that are enrolled in an engineering program - from athletes, Pride members, and everything in between. We are dedicated to school, but we take time out of studying and classes to have fun and be social like everyone else is. 
Abby Smith, OU

Table mentors and mentees interacted well. Left, Erin Roark.

A Camdenton, Missouri, teammate
and a vibrant table mentor

Claire and Norma from Pryor Creek's MCROBO team

Teammates from Camdenton, Missouri,
had so much enthusiasm and fun.

Scwamb, Smith and Dano

FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception, Part II of IV

Continuing the questions and answers from the engineering panel

Dano, Schwamb, Heller and Smith

4. How many female engineers are in your office or classes?

I am currently the only female engineer in my office; however, my company employs many, many female engineers throughout the world.  In my college classes I had a pretty equal distribution of men and women.
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

There are eight female engineers in my class of around 40, four mechanical engineers and four electrical/computer engineers.
Addison Schwamb, OCU

There are three female engineers (and three female scientists) out of about 80 employees. Not very many!
Caroline Heller, engineer

In my intro classes like Calculus and Physics, the ratio of women to men is about one female to every four males. In the classes I am in now within the Industrial Engineering department, there are a lot more women than there were my freshman year. I would say the ratio now is about 1 female to every 3 males, if that.         
                                                                                                                      Abby Smith, OU

SWE-OKC Section President Leslie Crissup 
visits with attendees

5. Did you 
ever face discrimination or discouragement for being a female engineer?

Discrimination, in my experience, is rarely blatant.  Unfortunately, I do feel that it happens and I have experienced some in my career.  I have had a couple bosses who I felt didn’t see me as an equal to male counterparts; however, I have also had some amazing bosses and mentors who supported me and invested in my future.  In my opinion, it is important to say something if you experience something that affects you.  Further, it is important to find mentors (especially female mentors) who will support you and guide you through any situation you experience.  Finally, it is important that women stick together and support one another because we are laying the foundation for the women of the future!  
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

I have never faced discrimination. All my professors and classmates are super supportive. However, I have faced discouragement many times, simply for being an engineer. This semester was extremely difficult and stressful because I took more classes than I should have, and multiple times I've been extremely stressed out. However, my friends were always there for me and told me that what I was doing was hard and it was okay to be stressed out. Now, at the end of the semester, I still love my major.
                                                                                                         Addison Schwamb, OCU

I felt out of place in my power and machinery class in college. and the guys definitely reminded me that it was not my strength. However, it was mostly poking fun at a city girl pursuing an agricultural major.                                                           
                                                                                                         Caroline Heller, engineer

I have never once felt belittled or had discrimination for pursuing a degree in engineering. All of my professors and colleagues have been respectful of me and the fellow women engineers.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                     Abby Smith, OU

Michelle from OG&E with her mentees

Mentor with the Waco, Texas, Devastators

Tinker Air Force Base's Jackie Pearson, IT systems
engineer, with OKC 4-H Robotics Ninja Munkees


So many opportunities for girls and even teachers
in the detail from the program

Thanks to Adrianne Covington Graham and the 
Oklahoma Engineering Foundation 
for co-sponsoring this annual event.

FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception 2017, Part III of IV

Continuing the questions and answers from the engineering panel

Two of Grove's F.R.O.G. Robotics Team

6. What do you wish you had known in school or in work? What advice would you share?

I wish I would have known, in college and just starting out at my career, that I didn’t need to know everything and that I didn’t need to be perfect, or excel at every subject/topic.  in college, I focused on finding the easiest classes to take that were outside of my core classes.  In hindsight, I wish I would have found classes that were more interesting to me and I wish I would have studied abroad.
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

I wish I had talked with more upperclassmen to know which classes I didn't need to take, because I took a couple my first semester that were slightly unnecessary. My advice is to talk to people who have been in your major or field for a while to learn specific things you wouldn't know starting out. Other than that my best advice is to never give up!
Addison Schwamb, OCU

My advice is to remember your classmates. You might run into them later down the road. I go to conferences with some former classmates and professors. It is important to continue to interact with them. They could be a client or a valuable resource.
Caroline Heller, engineer

One thing I wish I would have known before coming to college is that asking for help is okay and does not show signs of weakness. I am very hard on myself and determined to do things on my own, so when I had troubles in a class or grasping a concept, I would never go to my professors because I thought it showed I wasn’t smart enough. I had to learn the hard way through low performances on multiple tests that I really needed help, which is normal and perfectly fine. The more help I got with my professors and tutors, the better I became at the subject. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know something to reach out for help! 
Abby Smith, OU

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Johnson with a mentee

7. If applicable, please describe any internship or study abroad?

I had an internship the summer after my junior year with Trane.  It was an amazing experience and was a peek in to my future as a professional engineer.  I was offered a job after graduation, but didn’t take it at first for personal reasons.  However, my circumstances changed and because of my continued relationship with people from my internship I was offered a job again and I really enjoy it!
Jessica Steffan Dano, engineer

After my sophomore year of college, I spent eight weeks studying abroad in Montpellier, France. I was out of my comfort zone, but that is why it was one of the best experiences of my life. We met some French engineering students and traveled all over the country to see their famous engineering pieces- my favorite being the Canal du Midi. I also had an internship after my junior year of college with Terracon in Oklahoma City. Through that experience, I learned all about SPCC Plans for oil tank batteries. I completed the site visit, took the necessary measurements, and compiled the documentation for more than 100 tank batteries throughout Oklahoma.
Caroline Heller, engineer

I studied abroad in OU’s own campus located in Arezzo, Italy last summer with an organization I am a member of here at OU, President’s Community Scholars. I took a two-week class called Community, Art, and Action. The scope of the class was to learn about how Italians view community service and experience some of the country's art and learn about the history in multiple cities across Tuscany and Rome. For the community service aspect of the class, my group painted murals in the local hospital wing that connected the Emergency Room to the rest of the hospital. After that was completed, we took day and overnight trips to other cities to learn about the art. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I recommend studying abroad to any college student who is even remotely interested.

Abby Smith, OU

Jenks Prime Movers

Tulsa Union Ubotics members with their mentor

Important Point in Closing

It was brought up at the panel that every one of us had some sort of support group that helped us through hard times, which I think is super important to have.
Addison Schwamb, OCU

Mentors with the Missouri's Camdenton team, a very lively group.
Tinker AFB's Jackie Pearson is the mentor in the back. On the
left are Erin Roark, Lizzie Long and Jordan Fox, representing
Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority and professional sorority for
women in engineering and technical sciences. 

Teachers, Team Sponsors and Chaperones

Some mentors passionately return year after year and also recruit first-time mentors. Chaperones, teachers and sponsors not only do the same but also work with the teams throughout the year. Cheers for all of these women for championing STEM opportunities for young women!

Two of Tulsa Memorial Circuit Chargers'
enthusiastic support group

Among teachers, sponsors and chaperones is
Pryor's Tonya Backward, third from the left.


It was incredible to see the young women from MCROBO (Mayes County FIRST Robotics Team) get excited about their futures. I feel this year's planel was key in giving them the confidence they need and by allowing students to hear firsthand from local young engineering students and professionals. The information the panel provided to the audience was applicable and encouraging.

As a sponsor, it's inspiring to hear young women say, "I can do that." That's what every mentor/sponsors wants to hear.

Tonya Backward
MCROBO Team Sponsor and
Workforce Development Coordinator
MidAmerica Industrial Park
Pryor Creek, OK

Tulsa Memorial Circuit Chargers

Student Review

[Kat H., a member of The Circuit Chargers consulted the other attendees before writing the following.]

At this year’s SWE event, I heard a lot of new useful information and got a refresher on some of the things I already knew. When I asked the panelists about what activities we should do before college, they said that picking just a couple activities that you really like. This answered my question fully and was very helpful. For the three of us that went last year, we thought the speakers held our attention much better this year because the talk was broken up, and we had time for questions. I had a lot of questions to ask, so having our table mentor there was great, and we all got to know each other very well.

Lane Matheson
Instructor, AP Physics 1/C, AP Calculus BC, & Engineering Robotics 1/2/3
Director, Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial (TEAM)
Coach, FIRST Robotics Team 932 - The Circuit Chargers
Tulsa Public Schools, Memorial High School

Addison Schwamb with Amity from Metal
Chickasaw Nation Science,
Technology, and Math Academy,
sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation

FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception 2017, Part IV of IV

Talking Points for Table Mentors

FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception 
Oklahoma City

The goal of this document is to provide some talking points to assist the table mentors with table discussions. That being said, you do not have to use this document. It is simply to help encourage discussion among table participants.

  1. Introduce yourself – name, company, job and then major and university. Have the girls introduce themselves and their team.
  2. Where are you from? Some of the teams are from out-of-state, and this might be their first glance at Oklahoma City.
  3. What are some of your hobbies outside of school or work? Help the girls see that engineers are real people with some of their same interests.
  4. Tell them about your job/college experience. Give them an example of a time when you solved a problem that had an impact on society. Show them that engineers are important and needed in all aspects of life.
  5. How many types of engineering can you name? Do the students know any universities with engineering programs?   Example: Aerospace, agricultural, audio, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum, software, etc. 
  6. Do you know any engineers? What do they do for their job?

If you have any juniors or seniors at your table, ask them where they are considering attending college and what are their potential majors. Answer any questions they may have relating to the admissions process, financial aid, or course load. Promote SWE as a campus organization and support group on most college campuses.

More from the FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception 2017

Leslie Crissup, the president of the Society of Women Engineers, Oklahoma City Section, shared these prompts for table mentors prior to the 2017 FIRST Robotics Women in STEM Reception. The engineers did not need prompts, but these are suitable for adapting for other STEM table mentoring events. 

Crissup is SWE Region I Senator and project engineer for Enable Midstream Partners

She provides on-site engineering troubleshooting and consultation for compressor stations and processing plants. Leslie graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in chemical engineering. She is a Lean/Six Sigma Yellow Belt. Leslie is also a huge Thunder fan.

Subashini Iyer, mechanical engineer
for Boeing, speaks to the group
while Upekesha Addagatla,

(In medium blue on the right)

Upekesha Addagatla 

SWE OKC Secretary
Mechanical systems design engineer
The Boeing Company

Upekesha has experience working on military and commercial airplane designs. She enjoys mentoring the Edmond Memorial High School FIRST robotics team.

Lizzie Long, Oklahoma State University
engineering student and table mentor
Jordan Fox, table mentor and Oklahoma
State University computer science major

Mentor with a Tulsa Union Ubotics team member

Tinker Air Force Base's 1st Lt. Johnson
and some of her mentees

Subashini Iyer, mechanical engineer, and Addison Schwamb talk.
Iyer is the senior manager for modification & sustainment 
engineering structural analysis at Boeing.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cow Patty Bingo II

After the inaugural of Cow Patty Bingo at the Canadian County Fair in 2014, the board and mentors of El Reno Public Schools Foundation refined their project into a tour de force.

As a fundraiser, this is clever and well executed, but it can also be a fun activity at a festival or celebration. 

In Oklahoma, county fairs are large social events, really community celebrations, as well as competitions in agriculture, livestock, handwork, wood crafts, canning, cooking, and a plethora of other categories. Youths and adults proudly display their best work. A midway of some size offers rides and games. Vendors offer food specialties, such as funnel cakes, large turkey legs, deep-fired everything, and candied apples. Musicians entertain on stage. Businesses showcase their newest equipment and other products. Hawkers perfect the art of selling. With all five senses on overload, wonder and excitement permeate every county fair.

For this Cow Patty Bingo:
  • Space reserved at fair
  • Local pre-event publicity online
  • Ticket tables located at entrance(s)
  • Tickets sold at booth
  • Bingo tarpaulin and pen
  • Goats, their equipment and handlers
  • Schedule of bingo, i.e., when goats will be let out on tarp
  • Plinko Game with free prizes, including books, for kids
  • Homemade cobbler cooked over a chuck wagon fire
  • Ice cream (store bought) for cobbler ala mode
  • A heap of socializing

Debra Kauffman sells bingo tickets at the entrance to the fair.


Dana Gibson, chairwoman of the board for the Students Striving for Success Mentoring Program, admires the humor and artwork in the sign.

"Where there's muck, there's money"

Witty Dana may have created that slogan.

Peering out of their trailer, the darling stars, or poopers, of the show wonder 
what all the fuss is. (Goats poop more often than cattle.)

Precious, isn't she? This dainty doe always poses for hay.

Ah, what a handsome buck or billy (goat), especially in his stylish white chain collar! 

The pen, tarpaulin, and stars' trailer

Free Plinko, An Activity for Children

Plinko winners receive a new or lightly used book and/or trinkets 
purchased in large quantities. 

Students Striving for Success mentors spend a little time reading during each mentoring session since relationship-building and literacy are important. "SSS" mentees' state reading test score rose significantly after this mentoring program began.

Are those Chinese woven finger pulls? Adults like them, too. 
The plastic spider rings in Oklahoma State University colors are a hit also.

Cowboy Cobbler

This year Bill Nuzum's cobbler with an ala mode option was sold at the location.

Toni Grantham serves a generous portion of cobbler for a hungry fairgoer.

Wit the backdrop of a real cowboy chuck wagon, helping serve are Robert Grantham, 
Toni with ice cream on her fingers, and Brooke Robertson.

Was that "finger-licking good" ice cream? 

Mentors and board members Curtis Blanc and Ronnie Fields approve Bill's cobbler.

A closeup of Bill Nuzum's Dutch oven-cooked, cowboy cobbler.

Famous cowboy chuck wagon builder and cook Bill Nazzum instructs 
Chad Neathery in the art of cooking with hot coals.

Closeup of the cookers: Should you try this at home

A television looped the video show of Bill Nuzum on the Cooking Channel's My Grandmother's Ravioli. 

Nuzum has made many public appearances with his chuck wagon, cowboy food, stories, and activities related to western heritage. 

Read more in the link below.

Back to cow patty bingo

A closeup of the bingo tarpaulin

Waiting to see where the poop lands so someone can shout, "BINGO!"

Watching the hand-raised competition goats meander around the pen

Lucky number 48 has more poop pellets than other spaces at this moment. 

Ties secure the tarpaulin to the pen rails.

Dana Gibson is and has been a strong leader for Students Striving for Success. 
El Reno's Suzanne Thompson initiated the mentoring program concept and Dana took the lead. Leading citizens of El Reno are passionate board members and mentors. We salute Gibson, Thompson, and all the other creative, persistent people who make this mentoring program succeed brilliantly.

Canadian County Fair, the view from the Cow Patty Bingo location

From the El Reno Tribune

Photo by Ray Dyer

Caption: Linda Hulbatta, Dana Gibson, Richard Steanson and Bill Nuzum pose with the chuck wagon Nuzum will use to cook cobbler at the Cow Patty Bingo event, while Gibson's youngest grandson, Jimmy Gibson, inspects the wagon.