USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

i-c2409eac4fb0c36cf76df98506e64d5b-Karen Panetta Photo.jpgKaren Panetta sometimes has to laugh at the way engineers are portrayed in drawings by young students at the schools she visits. The children’s crayoned pictures usually depict boorish, geeky male stick figures wearing glasses; some of them have buck teeth and pimples, “and they’re most always carrying wrenches,” says Karen. Such are the musings of children, you might say, but Karen, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Tufts University in Medford, MA, is out to dispel such stereotypes at an early age in kids. “If you think being an engineer is sitting around being boring, you’re very wrong,” she likes to tell students.

Another misconception that she is trying to change in classrooms, especially among K-12 female students: that engineering is just for guys. In fact, women are increasing their presence and achievements in all fields of engineering — from nanotechnology and aerospace engineering to sustainable energy and structural engineering, she informs students. This is a key reason she established “Nerd Girls,” a widely-acclaimed outreach program dedicated to promoting women in engineering, and bridging the gap between attracting girls into the profession and sustaining them through their engineering training.

Are you a nerd girl? What area of engineering interests you most?

Read more about Karen and her Nerd Girls program here.

Here is a Women of Vision Awards video about Karen and her career path.

And in this video hear from Karen herself talk about what made her choose computers and engineering as a career.


  1. #1 Pembe Maske
    June 27, 2011

    Are you a nerd girl? What area of engineering interests you most? i red this topic but i am not a girl:)

  2. #2 Beth Katz
    June 27, 2011

    My daughter will be a first-year engineering student (probably chemical engineering with a dual major in international studies) in the fall and a lifetime Girl Scout. She had the advantage of having two computer science professors as parents. She loves math and problem solving. Thank you for sharing Karen Panetta’s story.

  3. #3 Kandy Collins
    June 27, 2011

    So glad you enjoyed the blog! Thanks for writing in.

  4. #4 Kandy Collins
    June 27, 2011

    That’s great! Thanks for reading our blog!

  5. #5 Stacy Jannis
    July 25, 2011

    check out this CBS report about girls in science

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