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Young girls delve into nontraditional careers

Iowa Central hosts sixth Diva Tech Camp

August 1, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Nineteen girls from across Iowa attended Diva Tech Camp at Iowa Central Community College this week.

The free, three-day camp introduced girls in grades six through eight to studies and career fields not normally adopted by girls.

"They come and explore careers that are nontraditional to girls, careers they might not think of going in to," Phyllis Minnihan, Iowa Central industrial technology adviser, said.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Becca Krueger, 12, Manson, solders her robot with some guidance from Diva Tech Camp coordinator Phyllis Minnihan, a technology department advisor at Iowa Central Community College. Wednesday was the last day of the camp, held at Iowa Central.

Starting Monday, the girls were engaged in projects in different industrial technology fields, including welding, agriculture, physics, carpentry, baking (most chefs are men), science, and electrical, Minnihan said.

"It's a good opportunity to see what the programs are like, down the road," she said.

For welding, the girls used a robotic welder to make picture frames. For agriculture, they made terrariums and learned about soil and plant types. In carpentry, they made waste baskets, using electric staple guns and nail guns. Afterward, they painted and decorated the boxes. For science, Iowa Central's I See Green Club showed them how to make tie-dye shirts with special dyes. The girls also made lava lamps and used microscopes to examine organisms. For baking, the girls made monster cookies.

On the last day of the camp, which was Wednesday, the girls constructed their own pet robots.

"When we're done today, we're going to walk around and gather our projects, and they'll be finished," she said.

Other classes offered in previous sessions included auto collision, arts and photography.

Minnihan said the camp this week has been amazing.

"We've got a great group of girls," she said.

The girls all had fun during the week, Minnihan said, in particular enjoying the hands-on projects.

"You've got to keep them busy with their hands," she said. "They love anything they can get their hands on."

Minnihan said the girls were all surprised by the fields and technologies they discovered through the week.

"It's something that some of them are afraid to try the first time, but once they do it they really enjoy it," she said. "How many girls this age use an electrical nail gun?"

There are few female students in such industrial technology courses at Iowa Central, Minnihan said.

"We've had, out of all of our programs, all 13, we've had at least one female graduate from all of them," she said. "It's always one or two females."

According to Minnihan, employers like to hire the female graduates coming out of Iowa Central's industrial technology programs.

"They make very good wages going out there. It's just not something girls think about going into," she said. "And they like to hire females. They think they have a better attention to detail than males."

Minnihan said there will be another Diva Tech Camp offered next year.

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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