January Is National Mentoring Month: New Program in Engineering & Science for Girls Combines Mentoring & Philanthriopy

Girls in science & engineering program begins Feb. 6

Our new workshop, Pretty Brilliant, gives girls experience in real-world engineering & design with a real-world client. The program, which is open to girls in high school and middle school, begins Feb. 6. REGISTER TODAY.

Beginning February 6, girls in middle school and high school will team up with engineering majors at Colorado State University to design the lighting for a Habitat for Humanity home for a single mother and her children. Stepping into the role of design engineer, girls will learn how designers design and gain the real-world skill and know-how to install their designs in a home in Fort Collins, CO.

The workshop, Pretty Brilliant, is the first program of its kind to benefit Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity, says Executive Director Kristen Candella. Pretty Brilliant will immerse girls in engineering while supporting them in the goal of designing lighting that will enhance home safety and energy efficiency.

At the same time, a community of engineers will informally mentor the girls. The vision, says Heidi Olinger, is to give girls a ready-made community of people with the resources and experience to help them on the road to pursuing their own studies and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Olinger is the founder of Pretty Brainy, which is spearheading Pretty Brilliant.

Members of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Colorado State University will serve as project managers for Pretty Brilliant. Girls in middle school and high school may more easily identify with university students, who are at the next higher level of attainment, than with women who are years or even decades their senior, no matter how accomplished they are, says Olinger.

“Placing informal mentoring at the heart of the program,” she continues, “will increase our opportunity to inspire, support, and sustain girls in STEM.” The program addresses the fact that fewer than one-quarter of degrees in engineering and engineering technologies in the United States are earned by females.

What’s more, 86 percent of females in engineering, science, and technology report that they do not have a sponsor to guide and help them advance in their profession. The reasons, as cited in a recent report from the Center for Talent Innovation, come down to what is missing: community and mentorship.

Who, When, Where & How Much

Space is available in Pretty Brilliant for 15 middle school and 15 high school girls. Register online. There is a one-time registration fee of $99. Scholarships are available.

Families registering more than one girl in their immediate household will benefit from a one-time discount of $20.

Pretty Brilliant will meet Fridays, February 6 to April 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Colorado State University in the Scott Bioengineering Building. The Scott Building is located on the southeast corner of Laurel St. and Meridian Ave. in Fort Collins.

Download Now For information on registration and much more, download the program flyer.

“We Were the Kind of Girls Who Would Have Been in This Program”

Pretty Brilliant is made possible by the OtterCares Foundation, whose mission is to champion innovative education that inspires young people to become philanthropists and entrepreneurs. OtterCares Executive Director Gary Rogers cites the “philanthropic and entrepreneurial spirit” nurtured by Pretty Brainy. “Ultimately, we feel the efforts of Pretty Brainy will encourage female students to become more immersed and excited about STEM education, which will provide the foundation and confidence to pursue their interests.”

Support also comes from Environmental Lights, named by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Environmental Lights, an industry leader in specialized LED lighting, is providing the lighting components with which the students will design. Engineers at Environmental Lights, including Candice Garcia, lead product engineer, will help instruct and mentor girls in the program.

Pretty Brilliant began when Anne Thorson, Environmental Lights co-founder, contacted Olinger in March 2014 with an offer of support. The two, who had been out of touch for 41 years, became best friends when they first met in home room in the 7th grade. Thorson, who now has three daughters of her own, says, “We were the kind of girls who would have been in this program.”

Join Pretty Brilliant Today

Register online. There is a one-time registration fee of $99.

How to Apply for a Scholarship

To apply for a scholarship, email your name, age, grade level, and the name of your school to this form. Include a 250-word statement on why you would like to be on the Pretty Brilliant team. Deadline is January 30, 2015.

Questions? Contact Pretty Brainy.