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‘It’s pretty cool:’ GE Healthcare, MSOE work to get more women interested in STEM careers

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MILWAUKEE -- GE Healthcare and MSOE are working together to get more women interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- also known at the STEM program. They are teaching young girls hardcore engineering concepts with a feminine touch.

Nola Hennen isn't much of an artist -- but the 13-year-old Waukesha middle schooler has been looking forward to spending her summer break working with plastics and other polymers.

"It's actually pretty fun. It's more fun than you would think it is," said Hennen.

Hennen and 35 other middle school girls are enrolled in the GE Girls at MSOE Summer STEM Camp.

"It's really meant to show the girls what they can do in STEM and it's fun, and not intimidating," said Olga Imas, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

Since 2012, MSOE and GE have been bringing young girls to campus to influence their interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

"It's pretty cool," said Maxine Lambert, Kettle Moraine Middle School student.

Women make up just 20 percent of the STEM field. Girls like Lambert hope to someday balance the equation.

"It's really important that that changes, and that people look at it differently -- and that women and men are both in the STEM field," said Lambert.

To lure more girls into the lab, this camp combines science and creativity. The girls put together circuits and program robots. They also study metals to make bracelets -- and chemistry to create lip gloss.

"They are really learning some hardcore engineering concepts while doing some girlie things like making jewelry," said Imas.

Now in its sixth year, the first girls to attend camp are about to enter college. More than 50 percent will pursue STEM majors.

Hennen, Lambert and many of the girls in this summer camp hope to follow in their footsteps.

GE is hosting camps in Milwaukee and Madison. They are also in 21 other communities across the United States.

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