Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This paper is focused on exploring the motivation for volunteering at an engineering outreach activity. The outreach activity itself involved a two day, overnight experience for 9th and 10th grade girls that started in 2005, and which has been held annually since that time. The outreach event takes place in Boise, Idaho, and at the time of its onset was the only outreach or camp activity in the state focused on girls or young women. Across ten years, 510 total girls have participated, with approximately 85% of them coming from the immediate metropolitan area. The program was developed with a mind toward marketing engineering as an exciting, creative activity; including activities developed specifically from that perspective.1 The specific topic of this paper is an investigation into the motivation for volunteers and students to support this program. Our hypothesis is that, in particular, the women found this an experience that helped to create community among like-minded STEM focused professionals and students.

An anonymous survey was used to collect information from the 188 individuals who helped support the program across the past ten years. This includes people from local industry, and faculty, students and staff from the university (some of the student staff were paid and some of the university staff participated as part of their work duties; all others were volunteers). Survey participants were asked to identify themselves as primarily being a student, faculty or staff at the associated university, professional employed in the region, or other. In total, 67 people responded to the survey. Across all respondents, 55% were students, 12% were faculty and 5% were staff at the university; and 25% were from outside the university. The results from the survey include their motivation for participation, and reasons for participating during more than one year if applicable. Survey results also include information reported concerning formal and informal interactions between volunteers, and information concerning opportunities for interactions with other professional women that are available. Finally, respondents’ reported on how they may have benefited from their participation in the engineering outreach activity together with advice they have to help improve the volunteer experience are presented. This paper will report on the results of this survey and will discuss the implications of these results.

Copyright Statement

© (2016), American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference (New Orleans, LA).