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Engineering student provides support to Thinking SMART Academy

By Adrienne Teague, University Relations Intern

Frank Lloyd Wright, watch out!

After challenging their engineering skills,
these girls have proven themselves as
strong, smart, and bold Girls Inc. participants.

Only teamwork, planning, and hurried bodies float around room 423 of the UTC Engineering and Computer Science Building, where twenty young women work together to design models for Tennessee River Waterfront development. Girls Inc. of Chattanooga is hosting a four-week program, and the participants are completing their first week of the Thinking SMART Academy.

“My group is building a two story mall with twenty shops located inside. We were given limited supplies and only a few hours to build a real 3-D model,” said Shanika of Howard High School.

UTC engineering major Lara
Amini (left) and Coordinator Erica
Thornburg (right) bring the fairy
tale to life for twenty girls from
the Chattanooga area.

Girls Inc. of Chattanooga was one of only four national Girls Inc. organizations to receive the grant for designing the curriculum for Thinking SMART. In addition to financial support, the organization is receiving volunteer help from UTC Engineering student Lara Amini, 22, of Chattanooga. She has offered her summer to show the girls what can happen when you take knowledge and apply yourself as a young woman, “These girls need to realize that engineering is as simple as making something work with what you’re given.”

Sidra, a future architect and President of the Technological Studies Association at Hixson Middle School, describes the difficulties she is facing as a now practice architect. “We are building a hotel and a pier, and it was difficult to build the pier so that it wasn’t bigger than the hotel. It had to be an exact fit,” she said.

The academy is designed to encourage the girls to explore career fields in which science, technology, engineering and mathematics are used. Camp leaders facilitate field trips throughout the Chattanooga community where each girl may interact with area professionals. Then they take that knowledge back to the classroom, and apply it.

“We went to the Hunter Museum, and spoke to the architect who designed the new edition of the museum. We also went to a design firm, and saw how they make the designs using computer software,” explained Emily of Loftus Middle School.
To get the word out to local girls, Coordinator Erica Thornburg had to spend six months planning and recruiting students to the program. Each of the twenty girls selected for the camp had to submit an application, which was comprised of questions from the Girls Inc. Nationals. “This camp is an all girls camp, so it’s really interesting to see the real reason why these girls came,” said Thornburg.

Next week, look for a story about how the partnership between UTC and Girls Inc. inspired a journalism academy, coordinated by a recent graduate and current student in the Communication Department.

Using an x-acto knife to cut the fine details can be quite tricky,
but she looks like a pro!

Busy hands lead creative
minds to construct an inspired
Riverfront Development.

July 15, 2005

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