KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — 600 female high school students from across East Tennessee were in Oak Ridge to learn more about careers in STEM.

The students came from 18 schools to participate in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The goal of the day was to “inspire girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math,” according to a release from CNS. It expands Consolidated Nuclear Security’s relationships with area schools to develop it’s future workforce. Kristin Waldschlager, a CNS educational outreach specialist, said teaching students about STEM-related opportunities is “crucial” for Y-12.

“We have a sense of responsibility to make sure we support the development and growth of future scientists and engineers who could be working here,” said Waldschlager.

Students at the event were able to watch 3-D printers at work and compete with marshmallow launchers. Y-12 Deputy Site Manager Amy Wilson and Senior Director of Y-12 Engineering Susan Kozemko spoke about career opportunities in science and engineering. The students also explored more than a dozen engineering disciplines at exhibits.

“What engineers really do is create. It’s safe to say that almost everything human-made was created by an engineer,” said Kozemko.

2023 was the first time the event was held in person since 2020. During the COVID pandemic, CNS offered virtual opportunities for students.

“It was great to welcome the students back,” said Waldschlager. “There’s nothing like the energy and excitement of this day, and nothing better than seeing a young woman realize the STEM career opportunities available right here in East Tennessee.”