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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Incoming ODU Female Engineering Students Tour NASA Langley

Incoming female engineering students in Old Dominion University's Early Engineering Advantage Program received a rare insider's look at projects happening inside NASA's Langley Research Center.

On August 27, 10 students in the program saw SAGE III/ISS, an atmospheric measurement instrument heading for the International Space Station next year; peered inside an acoustics lab where researchers look for ways to lessen the effects of aircraft noise; and heard about NASA Langley's role in shaping agency plans for a human mission to Mars.

The students learned about services performed by NASA Langley, including aerodynamic testing that takes place in the 31-ince Mach 10 wind tunnel.

"It all seems really interesting," said Danijela Celar, who graduated from Grafton High School in Newport News this year and plans to study mechanical engineering. "It seems like working here would never get boring."

Old Dominion University's Engineering Early Advantage Program (EEAP) is designed to prepare female engineering students for the rigors of the school's program. Each summer, a group of top incoming female students are selected to take part in the free program, which features hands-on, immersive workshops and group collaborations, as well as tours of local engineering installations such as the Norfolk Naval Base, Newport News Shipbuilding and commercial firms.

During their visit to NASA Langley, female NASA engineers gave the aspiring engineering students encouragement and advice.

Sarah Waechter, who was recently named scheduling analysis and risk management lead in Langley's Flight Projects Directorate, told the students their careers may including twists and turns.

"I find motivation by being challenged," said Waechter, who has tackled six different jobs in her 13 years with the agency. "I always want to do something new."

Founded in 2000 through funding from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the program is designed to help prepare admitted ODU female engineering students for the rigor of their studies and, ultimately, of the traditionally male-dominated profession.

The EEAP is part of the college's efforts to attract and retain female students in the traditionally male-dominated engineering field. Many "graduates" of the EEAP have gone on to be academic stars in the Batten College, and are now holding prestigious engineering positions and helping fill a need in the local workforce.

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