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‘Dream Big’ film aims to inspire young women to become engineers




Engineer Angelica Hernandez mentors students from her former Phoenix high school as they prepare to enter a robotics contest.
Engineer Angelica Hernandez mentors students from her former Phoenix high school as they prepare to enter a robotics contest.
Courtesy of MacGillivary Freeman Films
Engineer Angelica Hernandez mentors students from her former Phoenix high school as they prepare to enter a robotics contest.
A close-up view of the Shanghai Tower’s aerodynamic twist, which reduces the impact of typhoon winds on this 2073-foot, 128-story structure.
Courtesy of MacGillivary Freeman Films
Engineer Angelica Hernandez mentors students from her former Phoenix high school as they prepare to enter a robotics contest.
Local Haitian engineers work with engineers from the non-profit Bridges to Prosperity to build a footbridge across the Chameau River, providing access to much-needed medical care and schools.
Courtesy of MacGillivary Freeman Films


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It's called STEM – an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Today, only about a quarter of jobs in the STEM sector are held by women. And when you narrow it down to engineering alone, the number are even smaller. 

But the filmmakers behind a documentary now playing at the California Science Center hope to change that, by inspiring young women to study engineering and become professionals. The 3D IMAX film is called "Dream Big: Engineering our World." 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huVNsT8BIM8&feature=youtu.be&list=PLKK8aLzqhSlWtItgXaOXHaynSMHVg_G9x

The film features contemporary engineers, mostly women, working on engineering feats including a wind-laden skyscraper, precariously placed bridges, and even a robot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDoBxZbSWKk&feature=youtu.be&list=PLKK8aLzqhSlWtItgXaOXHaynSMHVg_G9x

Take Two's Julia Paskin went to check out the film. She brought along Vanessa Paneto, a civil engineer based in Orange County, to see what she thought of their efforts to bring more women into her profession. 

Civil Engineer, Vanessa Paneto at the California Science Center
Civil Engineer, Vanessa Paneto at the California Science Center
KPCC

Vanessa Paneto: Being a woman engineer, there's not many of us. Civil engineering I would say has more than other fields like mechanical or electrical. But even in my office, besides me and the owner, we're the only women in the whole office. So, I just think there's not a lot representation. 

Ever since I started calculus, I've seen less women in my classes. So that went onto less in my field. I think it starts in the very beginning. If you don't encourage them to take those math and science classes, then they're not going to have the background or want to go into engineering. 

Paneto said she felt connected to the women engineers in "Dream Big," especially Angelica Hernandez, an engineer from Phoenix, Arizona. "Dream Big" follows Hernandez and her robotics club as they compete in an underwater robotics competition. 

“Stinky” the Robot competes in an underwater robotics competition. The team of high school engineers at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona surprised everyone with their robot and their ingenuity.
“Stinky” the Robot competes in an underwater robotics competition. The team of high school engineers at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona surprised everyone with their robot and their ingenuity.
Courtesy of MacGillivary Freeman Films

Vanessa Paneto: She grew up on the poorer side of town, and worked her way up through her robotics class, and then went onto Stanford... That was really inspiring.

But did ‘Dream Big’ resonate with its intended audience? 

Jade Leone, age 12: I always liked building when I was little. Now, I'm kind of considering if I want to be an engineer. 

Although 100% of the kids polled said they found the stories inspiring and that they have learned something new about the field, only some said it sparked an interest in pursing a career in engineering. 

For more information on "Dream Big: Engineering our World," check out the California Science Center website.