P.C. Rossin College of
Engineering and Applied Science
Hands-on experiences encourage creative discovery, provide window to career possibilities

Their water tower collapsed pretty much right away and it took a few tries to get their Rube Goldberg project to accomplish its task, but none of that mattered to Team Pink. 

The five CHOICES campers were having a blast.

“All the girls here are so fun,” said Karishma Beraj, 14, one of the members of Team Pink. “We learned to work together as a team from day one, and we didn’t even need time to get used to each other. It was like we already knew each other.”

CHOICES stands for Charting Horizons and Opportunities in Careers in Engineering and Science. The outreach program started in 1993 as a one-day spring event, and expanded in 2004 to include a summer camp. In both the spring and summer sessions, volunteers from Lehigh’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) introduce the girls to civil, environmental, electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering, as well as materials science. 

Through fun, challenging experiments, participants learn some of the applications within those different fields, and by working with the SWE mentors, they get to see female engineers in action. To date, more than 1,300 girls have participated in the program.

2019 Summer CHOICES 

During this summer’s camp, which featured two consecutive one-week sessions in mid-July, 43 girls had the opportunity to build structures out of K’NEX building sets and test the stability of their creations on an earthquake simulation board. They constructed water towers meant to (hopefully) hold a plastic bin holding increasingly more water and designed wonderfully elaborate and over-the-top Rube Goldberg machines that would (eventually) squeeze out a bit of toothpaste. 

It’s all meant to encourage and foster the girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. For Karishma and her twin sister, Reshma, it also helped solidify what they want to study as they head into their first year of high school.

“It's really important to pick our courses and stuff,” says Karishma, who says she didn’t know anything about engineering prior to attending the camp. “They said that biology, chemistry, and things like that are important in high school if you want to become an engineer. I want to either be a doctor or an engineer because both of those things help people, and that’s what I want to do.”

Reshma isn’t quite sure yet what she wants to be. She’s still exploring her options, she says. But after CHOICES, engineering “is definitely a contender.” 

“I think the most important thing that I took away from this camp is that with engineering, you get to work with other people. When I was younger, I thought engineering was just building stuff. But it's more about communicating with other people, and that's what I like about it.”

The 2019 Summer CHOICES camp was sponsored by Lehigh's P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and Bosch Rexroth, a leading supplier of industrial controls technology. Bosch Rexroth has been supporting the program since 2015. This summer, campers took a tour of the Lehigh Valley Rexroth facility, and did various lab safety and engineering activities. Bosch Rexroth further ensured the longevity of the camp with a $15,000 Bosch Community Fund grant.  

"Bosch’s participation in this program will help to strengthen STEM in the community by providing support financially and hands-on collaboration to local female students,” says Richard Cory, director of human resources at Bosch Rexroth’s Industrial Hydraulics business unit in Bethlehem, PA. “Today’s students exposed to this program will be the engineers of tomorrow.”

Steve DeWeerth, professor and dean of the Rossin College, shares that sentiment. "CHOICES is a great example of how an institution like ours can actively enhance the diversity of the engineering community," he says. "Through generous support from corporations like Bosch Rexroth, we are able to partner with professionals from the shop floors and labs across our region—places where the business of science and engineering is conducted each and every day—to extend our young guests' opportunity for exploration and discovery."  

For many campers, those opportunities are enriched by the freedom they are given to be curious and creative. 

“CHOICES is a really hands-on experience. It's not like other camps where you’re told what to do,” says Reshma. “We built our own strategies for each challenge, and no one told us what to do. We got to think about it on our own, as a group. And we just had fun.”

Bosch Rexroth check presentationAbout the Bosch Community Fund

The Bosch Community Fund, the U.S.-based foundation for Bosch, has awarded nearly $25 million in grants to various 501(c)(3) organizations and educational institutions. The Bosch Community Fund focuses primarily on the enrichment of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the advancement of environmental sustainability initiatives.

About Bosch Rexroth

As one of the world’s leading suppliers of drive and control technologies, Bosch Rexroth ensures efficient, powerful and safe movement in machines and systems of any size. The company bundles global application experience in the market segments of Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications and Engineering, and Factory Automation. With its intelligent components, customized system solutions and services, Bosch Rexroth is creating the necessary environment for fully connected applications. Bosch Rexroth offers its customers hydraulics, electric drive and control technology, gear technology and linear motion and assembly technology, including software and interfaces to the Internet of Things. With locations in over 80 countries, more than 32,300 associates generated sales revenue of roughly 6.2 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in 2018.

Since 1967, the company has been located in the United States and employs approximately 1,500 people in the country.

Department/Program: 
CHOICES campers outside
"CHOICES is a great example of how an institution like ours can actively enhance the diversity of the engineering community. Through generous support from corporations like Bosch Rexroth, we are able to partner with professionals from the shop floors and labs across our region—places where the business of science and engineering is conducted each and every day—to extend our young guests' opportunity for exploration and discovery."
Steve DeWeerth, professor and dean of the Rossin College
CHOICES campers on field trip