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Krakow volunteers turn on the ”Greenlight for Girls”

Krakow volunteers turn on the ”Greenlight for Girls”

October 4, 2017

By Kasia Chmurzynska

most2I have always been fascinated by bridges. How is it possible that a suspended structure doesn’t break? I’ve observed engineers who were truly changing the world, building such bridges, and I’ve imagined what my life would look like had I chosen technical university. The prospect appealed to me tremendously, but it didn’t sound like a job for a woman. After all, how many girls are encouraged to consider structural or civil engineering careers? Probably not enough, as the engineering industry is still dominated by men.

IMG_4529I ended up choosing a different career, but I was lucky enough to end up working for CH2M, which also opens doors for non-engineers. Being surrounded by hundreds of colleagues, I can count on their support when I need it. I recently thought about my bridge-building prospects, “Too late for me, but I can still make a difference for others!” Even though I’m not personally building bridges, I have found a way to contribute and inspire others to pursue their dreams. It’s called “Greenlight for Girls.”

Greenlight for Girls” is a worldwide initiative that promotes STEM education for 10- to 14-year-old girls. This year marked the second year of CH2M’s involvement and the first year my fascination with bridges could come to light. Inspired by my bridge-designing colleagues, together with a couple of other great people who volunteered their Saturday, we ran a series of workshops at a local academy, AGH.

Beginning with a brief presentation, we introduced 50 girls to the world of

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engineering with a focus on bridges. The goal was to inform them of the benefits of STEM careers and inspire them to consider becoming engineers. Supported by our team, the participants could test their construction skills by building miniature bridges out of wooden sticks.

most3One of my colleagues, Patryk Zak, bridge engineer from the Global Design Production Center in Krakow, said, “In addition to the tasks that girls had to complete, we also presented a simple model of a suspended bridge. My little assistants helped me build the construction made of chairs, cardboard, scotch tape and strings. They could test the loading and understand the basics of our daily work. For me personally it was a great pleasure to share some of my knowledge.”

most5For some of the girls, these workshops were the first time they’d been exposed to engineering. The event gave me a great chance to do something rewarding for the local community. And best of all, I got to bring my daughter along so she saw me in a role outside of my comfort zone, serving my community by providing opportunities for girls like her.

In addition to helping with the bridge-building workshop, some of our colleagues also helped as group leaders, taking care of the girls throughout the day. All in all, it was a fantastic experience for kids and adults!

In all parts of our lives—as parents, family members, neighbors or friends—we influence the future workforce, so why not influence girls to pursue career paths into engineering? All of us can play a part in promoting STEM education. As for me and the rest of my colleagues, we wish we had met such volunteers as kids too!

Kasia, in the front row, with her CH2M colleagues

Kasia, in the front row, with her CH2M colleagues

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October 2017

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