In this economy jobs are hard to find, but there's one area where there are fewer candidates than there are jobs.
The field is engineering and Kansas City has a strong presence in the industry. But in America women represent only about 10 percent of the workforce.
Alyssa Zimmerman wants to inspire the next generation of women engineers. She's an engineering technologist who does testing on non-nuclear parts of nuclear weapons. In college she excelled so much that she had a job waiting for her after graduation from Pittsburg State University.
"I interned with Honeywell between my junior and senior year of college, then got a job offer from them at the end of my internship, so I knew I was going to work there starting my senior year of college," Zimmerman said.
Every year for the past four, she has helped organize a program called "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day." It's for girls in ninth through 12th grade and more than 80 mentors come to share their experiences. Then the girls team up for an activity.
"This was developed four years ago and it has grown every year since and we just keep inviting girls and mixing up the projects they do and anything that will spark the interest that they need to get into engineering," Zimmerman said.
The project this year is making a prosthetic hand out of only a handful of materials. The girls team up and design, construct and implement the hand using hydraulic syringes. Zimmerman said it teaches the girls confidence that they sometimes lack when it comes to math and science.
"We don't think that we are capable and not as good so a lot of it revolves around that, so it's about empowering these girls that you are good enough for this," she said.
Zimmerman's interest in engineering comes from her own experience with a mentor – something she hopes the girls will find in her program.
"That's what it took for me was to just be pushed by a teacher, so if they have one interaction with a mentor that lets them know that this is what I want to do, then that's great for us," she said.
Zimmerman is also working on a new degree from Kansas State University's masters in engineering management program.
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