As a child, Samantha McCormack played with circuit boards and created home-made radios with her sister. Not long after, she wrote a persuasive essay on why her parents should get solar panels for their home. Her love of the environment and electronics eventually grew into an enthusiasm towards engineering, allowing her to bring her insight to young girls in Landing and Connolly elementary schools.
The Holy Trinity High School senior and Glen Cove resident was chosen as one of 23 female students across the country to represent the National Academy of Engineering EngineerGirl as an ambassador. NAE hosted a two-day event in Washington D.C. for the ambassadors and sponsors where ambassador alumni and prominent women in engineering presented their project, jobs, experiences and pathways within their careers. The event concluded with the ambassadors developing hands-on activities for young schoolgirls in their neighboring school districts.
Starting in January 2023, McCormack will coordinate two five-week programs, with the help of the Youth Bureau’s After Three programs. With this program, McCormack can help young girls build leadership skills and generate excitement for engineering as part of her ambassador duties.
Each week will focus on one of the different types of engineering and related science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. She will conduct various hands-on experiments with students, which will include building a model sized bridge for their week on civil engineering. They will test the integrity of bridges built by students and discuss the results of the experiment. Another week will have students build balloon-powered cars, which will use air pressure to propel the cars across the classroom.
Currently, there are nine students at Connolly and 12 students at Landing elementary schools signed up for her program. McCormack is also hoping to tour Glen Cove's Webb Institute, an engineering-focused private college.
“She wants more girls to feel empowered in engineering and to look at it in a slightly different perspective,”
Jacquelyn Yonick, the youth program coordinator said. “Any time a young person is inspired and wants to mentor younger people in a field, especially something in the STEM world, we always encourage that.”
Although McCormack always had an interest in STEM and was exposed to the field as a child, her passion for the field grew while joining her high school robotics team. She enjoyed working on designs and building robots to compete with, but she always felt that engineering, as well as other STEM careers, is male dominated. She felt the imbalance in places like her high school robotics team, which only has two other girls out of a dozen students.
McCormack created her After Three curriculum with the help of her mother, Susan McCormack, who owns her own business as a computer repair tech for the North Shore area. McCormack’s mother was a strong influence in joining the EngineerGirl ambassador program and an advocate towards bringing more women in STEM. Both felt the importance for young girls to discuss how STEM affects their everyday lives and why it’s important to have more women in STEM who can offer different viewpoints to problem solving.
“Hopefully that will carry through to their more formative years in middle school and in high school and get them involved in taking STEM classes,” Susan said, “so that they could be on the right path when they start to go to college.”
McCormack is applying to engineering schools including the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She hopes to study mechanical engineering with a concentration in sustainable energy. Susan said her daughter’s main interest in STEM revolves around knowing that she can be a bigger part of solving the world's energy crisis in researching energy that's sustainable for long-term use.