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Girl Scouts (from left) Jordan Williams 9 LeilVallandigham 8 SamanthWilliams 13 MarthTorres 9 admire tower they designed for morning project.

Girl Scouts (from left) Jordan Williams, 9, Leila Vallandigham, 8, Samantha Williams, 13, and Martha Torres, 9, admire the tower they designed for the morning project. | Sue Ellen Ross/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 6, 2014 6:10AM



Although Amulya Aluru is only in seventh grade, she’s starting to think about education after high school. One area she is considering is engineering, and she recently attended an interactive event focusing on women in that profession.

“My mother, father and uncle are engineers, so it seems natural that I will study that too,” she said, after arriving at the event held in honor of National Engineers Week at NIPSCO headquarters.

The daylong sessions offered an introduction to this career field for 125 second- to sixth- grade girls from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Girl Scout troops. An additional 25 young daughters of NiSource employees also participated.

“ We’re using the same format as last year; it was such a success and the girls were really excited while they were here,” said event co-chairman Ashley Terry. “We definitely wanted to do it again.”

The day held many opportunities to learn in a fun and engaging way. Facilitated by NIPSCO volunteers, those attending were broken into groups, as they first attempted a hands-on project and then traveled to four learning stations.

The project was the first task of the day — building an 18-inch tower with a tennis ball on top that would not yield to high winds.

Dillen Edwards 10, of Portage, was not fazed. “When I was little, I learned to work with tools in the basement,” she said. “We built things with wood and we can do this.”

After the construction job, the girls broke into groups to visit four stations.

The first stop was a talk given by three woman engineers.

NIPSCO employee Amy Lohman is a major projects leader. “A lot of young girls have no idea of what an engineer does,” she said. “Through this event, they can learn about the wide variety of careers available in this field.”

Joining Lohman on the panel were Dee Cota and Anita Bateman.

When asked if she has homework, Bateman laughed and replied that occasionally her briefcase does accompany her when she leaves work. “Yes, I do have homework. Sometimes my work can’t be completed in a regular workday, so I do take it home.”

The other stations included an “Exploding House,” Safety Village and electricity demonstration.

The latter was presented by retired NIPSCO lineman Buzz Ingram.

“Electricity comes in from under the ground or overhead lines, and gas lines are buried,” he told the girls. “If dad or grandpa is outside digging and they don’t know what is in the ground, it can be dangerous. Electricity can come through their shovel.”

Alayna Andree, 9, of Griffith paid rapt attention to this particular talk. “We are learning about power and voltage in school,” she said. “What he’s saying is interesting and we’re learning more about it.”

The event was hosted by NIPSCO and organized by NiSource Inc.’s Developing and Advancing Women at NiSource group.



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