More than 80 area middle school students will spend a day this summer at Virginia Tech learning about dozens of different career opportunities in the traditionally male-dominated facilities industry.
On June 7, rising eighth graders from public middle schools in Montgomery County and Roanoke City will have the opportunity to see what goes on in various areas of the university’s Facilities Department by touring construction sites, learning how Hokie Stone is harvested, and observing campus utility systems in operation.
“We are excited to be able to give back to the community by helping these young ladies learn about Virginia Tech and the myriad of career options available to them right here in their backyards,” said Vice President for Administration Sherwood Wilson. “I’m pleased that we can showcase the services we provide to the university and the Blacksburg community, and the many talented women we have working in these types of positions.”
The girls will board buses from their home schools and arrive at Virginia Tech’s Squires Student Center by 8 a.m. where they will begin the day hearing from university leaders Chris Kiwus and Mercedes Ramirez Fernandez. Kiwus is the associate vice president and chief facilities officer and Fernandez is the associate vice provost for strategic affairs and diversity.
They’ll break up into small groups and spend the next eight hours touring eight different locations and hearing from dozens of women who work in the department for a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. The tours include stops at the Quarry, Sterrett Facility Complex, Chiller Plant, Central Steam Plant, and the recently completed Derring Steps project, as well as several active construction sites: Upper Quad, Rector Field House, and Southgate/460 Interchange.
They will also have the opportunity to talk with women about their experiences and careers in the field, which is traditionally dominated by men and will get to enjoy lunch at one of the university’s award-winning dining facilities, D2 at Dietrick Hall.
The event, which is being called Girls Day 2017, is the first of its kind in the area and is being held to encourage girls’ interest in STEM-related fields. In both Montgomery County and Roanoke school system, eighth graders spend much of the school year learning about the variety of career opportunities available to them which allows them to begin honing in on classes and skills they want to acquire as they enter high school.
According to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women comprise 48 percent of the American workforce but just 24 percent of workers in science, technology, engineering, and math related fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the construction industry in particular, women comprise less than nine percent of the total workforce.
Learn more, and view photos of the tour locations, on the Girls Day 2017 web page.