OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Y-12 National Security Complex will take the Introduce a Girl to Engineering event virtual this year to introduce East Tennessee students about careers in engineering.

Through a series of E-Talks, girls in East Tennessee can watch pre-recorded videos with Y-12 employees explaining their day-to-day and answering questions.

Teachers interested must register for the pre-taped videos, then, once registered, E-Talks will automatically be delivered to the email address used when registering and securing ticket.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering is an annual event hosted by Consolidated Nuclear Security at Y-12 National Security Complex.

The focus of the event is to encourage female students from local area schools to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Normally, several hundred eighth- through 12th-grade female students from East Tennessee attend the event at Y-12 where they are able to meet and speak with women who work in the engineering field and participate in hands-on activities.

The pandemic has changed that, now the event will go virtual. The recordings feature our employees who support national security by developing innovative solutions in manufacturing technologies, prototyping, safeguards and security, technical computing, and environmental stewardship.

Teachers may register to receive E-Talks on Eventbrite, and the event is free.

Additionally, members of Women in Nuclear-Oak Ridge and the Society of Women Engineers will be providing live sessions to some schools via Zoom.

Stories of female engineers at Y-12

Julie Cramer was an intern at Y-12, then graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in mechanical engineering, and started working at Y-12 full-time when she graduated.

“My dad got me interested in engineering, I was in high school. I liked math and I liked science, I was a logical thinker,” said Cramer.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now, she’s focused on helping the next generation of female engineers find a love for STEM.

“We want them to see people that look like them, so we want them to talk to female engineers and see what their career path looked like and what their experiences were. So, it’s not something where they’re scared to go into because they’ve never seen anybody do it before,” said Julie Cramer, an engineer at Y-12.

Dena Volovar is a senior vice president of Consolidated Nuclear Security and project director for the Uranium Processing Facility. She oversees the Uranium Processing Facility project.

Volovar has three school-aged daughters, and her husband is an engineer. She says because of that, she’s asked, “How do you deal with raising girls, and what you do?”

To that question she said: “I think the biggest thing I always say is I don’t push anything on them… I look at their interests, and then feed those,” said Volovar.

Dena Volovar on the job. Photo: Y-12

Volovar said it’s important for women, and all backgrounds, to be represented in STEM.

“If you think about what engineers do, they’re either finding a better way to do something, they’re building something new, or coming up with a new innovation that makes life easier for everyone,” said Volovar.

The Introduce Girls to Engineering event is part of National Engineers Week Feb. 21-27th.