PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Dr. Kristina Fields, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, is the curriculum manager for the Sky’s the Limit program, an engineering outreach program for girls in grades 7-12 initiated in 2010 by Tammy Salmon-Stephens, director of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Student Success Programs. Fields works to create hands-on multi-disciplinary science, mathematics and engineering projects for the participants by working directly with UW-Platteville faculty, alumni and industry professionals.
Three programs are set for this academic year, one for girls in grades 7-8, one for grades 9-10 and another for grades 11-12. In the program designed for 11th and 12th grade students, which took place Nov. 14–16, attendees had the opportunity to experience the renewable energy side of engineering by helping build solar-powered USB chargers as one of their hands-on projects.
“The UW-Platteville senior energy students in Dr. Dino Reess’ renewable energy Senior Research and Design class are taking solar cells selected by Dr. Lynn Schlager in mechanical engineering and weatherizing them and making them durable. Next, Ress’ sophomore Fundamentals of Energy Sources students will take the instructions from what the seniors did and actually build the chargers so that they’re almost usable,” said Fields.
The Sky’s the Limit program participants then finished and tested them with the help of the senior and sophomore energy students, to complete this multi-level and aged project.
“It’s really an exciting project because everyone plays an important role in creating these USB chargers,” said Fields. Once they complete the chargers, they sent them to an organization called African Soul, American Heart, designed to protect, educate and empower orphans from the Republic of South Sudan through primary school, secondary school and beyond.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Sky’s the Limit program because the chargers will actually be sent to South Sudan to aid 30 orphan girls who attend school during the day and will benefit from having light to read and do schoolwork, as they lack consistent electricity,” said Fields, “The ASAH girls have been through many challenges due to the civil war in their country. It’s a great real-life experience for our UW-Platteville renewable energy students and Sky’s the Limit program participants because they are using their talents to improve the quality of life for others.”
The Sky’s the Limit program was designed to introduce young women to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. “There are no qualifications to participate in the programs we provide to the girls,” said Fields. “We have attendees come from as far as five hours away to as close as Platteville.”
For more information on Sky’s the Limit, go to www.uwplatt.edu/ems-success/skys-limit.