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Washington State University team creates learning kits to retain women in engineering

Washington State University researchers are developing hands&‘on learning kits they hope will make a difference in retaining more women in engineering programs.
Led by Bernard Van Wie, a professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, graduate students Kitana Kaiphanliam and Olivia Reynolds, received a Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Grant to develop the kits, which will give students a taste of the real&‘world impact of engineering, according to a university article.
 
In their research, Kaiphanliam and Reynolds learned that young women are typically more interested in professions which they perceive as directly involving people and their lives, such as a doctor or veterinarian, according to the article.
They didn't often view engineering as a field where they could help others. The women decided to develop kits that would demonstrate biomedical engineering concepts that easily translate into real&‘world applications in the medical field.
 
“These kits will help undergraduate students, especially women, realize that becoming an engineer offers them a wide range of opportunities to contribute to society,” said Kaiphanliam.
 
One of the learning kits will help students learn fluid dynamics while they work on a simulation of fluid flow in blood vessels in the cases of an aneurysm or blood clot. A second project will introduce students to the concept of blood cell separations by using an entertaining and simple fidget-spinner-inspired centrifuge design.

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