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Mississippi State Scholar Shares Experiences to Inspire Girls to Reach their Full Potential

October 3, 2017

Emily Salmon-Wall, an ISER research engineer, talks to Vicksburg High School gilrs about the engineering profession.
Emily Salmon Wall, an ISER research engineer, talks to Vicksburg High School girls about the engineering profession.
A Mississippi State scientist is helping to inspire the next generation of women to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math. Emily Salmon-Wall, a research engineer at the Institute for Systems Engineering Research at the Vicksburg Engineering Research and Development Center, recently visited Vicksburg High School to speak to a group of 25 girls to share her experiences and challenges of becoming an engineer. 
 
Although STEM degrees earned and careers filled by women have increased over the past 30 years, women still represent approximately one in five faculty members employed in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and the physical sciences collectively.

As a speaker and role model, Salmon-Wall is trying to help Teresa Jones, the executive director of G.A.L.S –Girls Achieving, Leading & Succeeding, to change those statistics. G.A.L.S invites successful female professionals into the classroom to give personal testimonials about overcoming the challenges of becoming an engineer in order to boost girls' confidence and encourage them to continue to believe in themselves and stay strong when feelings of self-doubt arise.
 
As part of her visit, Salmon-Wall, facilitated a group learning project that is designed to empower girls to see themselves as thinkers, problem solvers, leaders and innovators who can excel in STEM careers or any profession they choose.
 
Girls bldg. roller coaster Salmon began her presentation with a brief overview of her role as an engineer. "I described my experience in college and the challenges I faced on my road to earning my degree. Then we assigned the girls to groups. We then led an activity where each group built a roller coaster for a marble using foam and tubes. The art, math and scientific imagination of design shows girls how to apply STEM skills and hopefully change their perspective about engineering for the better."
 
Having Salmon-Hall speak at the high school helped Jones's effort to expand G.A.L.S. outside of her high school alma mater, South Delta High School. The organization now extends to Vicksburg, Leland, and Humphrey County.

Jones said, "We're trying to help our teachers help girls, our next generation of female leaders, become strong critical thinkers, collaborators and problem-solvers who tackle real-world issues."
 
G.A.L.S. organizes college and university level visits for young mentees and was founded by Jones and fellow South Delta High School alums Kayla Ivory, Alzaiter Cash-Davis and Jasmine Booker. Their cohort includes a range of girls who have earned some of the highest grade point averages in South Delta High School, as well as "at-risk" youth who have directly attributed their academic growth and success to their involvement in the G.A.L.S. Program.
 
ISER's mission is to improve engineering, design, and process systems by developing next-generation computational tools for new systems and products that will assist decision makers in selecting the most appropriate courses of action to resolve issues related to ERDC equities or projects and reduce the risk of the U.S. industrial base.
 
For more information about G.A.L.S., please visit www.pyramidproject.org/gals
For more information about ISER, please visit www.iser.msstate.edu/