King’s Fork grad learns about being a ‘womengineer’

Published 10:21 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Ashley Cox knew she was getting into a male-dominated field when she decided to pursue engineering.

But a few months after being accepted to Old Dominion University, she was offered an opportunity to learn about being a “womengineer.”

Ashley Cox

For the past four weeks, the 2011 King’s Fork High School salutatorian has learned about the engineering program and participated in hands-on activities through the university’s Engineering Early Advantage Program.

Email newsletter signup

The program, which ODU has offered for 11 years, is a paid internship for the female students to earn academic and professional exposure before they begin classes at ODU’s college of engineering.

Since July 11, Cox and 14 other students have reported Monday through Thursday for the program. On Monday, the last day of the program, Cox and her fellow EEAP participants will give a presentation of what they learned to the people who are paying them.

Cox’s time at EEAP was split between spending two weeks at ODU and two weeks at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center.

While at VMASC, the students took part in hands-on engineering activities, such as designing and racing a pinewood derby racecar and rebuilding a computer.

Cox said she most enjoyed putting the computer together.

The students had to select different parts from a stockpile to reconstruct the machines.

“It’s kind of like a puzzle (putting it together),” she said. “It wasn’t extremely difficult for me, but I was lucky I found all working parts.”

After the construction was completed, they had to network the computers to work together.

“For the most part, it was pretty simple,” she said. “I was fortunate that it worked.”

In addition to their projects at VMASC, the students also visited several businesses and companies in the engineering field, including NASA Langley and WR Systems in Norfolk.

They also took a virtual tour of Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation in Harbour View.

“It was pretty neat,” Cox said, adding that they designed personalized avatars for their digital walk through the facility.

The EEAP participants also had a weekly lunch with an engineering professional. She was able to meet some of the professors she will be working with when she starts classes.

She added the experience also helped her get to know the ODU campus.

“It’s helped me to know what to expect,” Cox said. “On the first day of school, I won’t be lost. When I’m looking for Kaufman 101, I’ll know where it is.”

She also thinks EEAP will be a great addition to her resume.

“Everyone always wants you to have experience, but how do you get it?” she said. “(EEAP) will made it easier to get jobs in the future.”

But above all, she said EEAP has given her insight to being a girl in a boy’s world.

“It helps us get ready,” she said. “You have to know your stuff. We need to have a lot of confidence in our skills.”