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Dagnino opens up world of engineering to YISD girls

Engineering Division Manager Gisela Dagnino has made many school presentations before, but this one at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy was different.

As part of Engineering Week, Dagnino was at the Ysleta Independent School District academy to introduce many girls to engineering. The challenge with this presentation, though, was that a very special seventh-grader would be sitting in the audience – her daughter, Ayleen Escamilla.

“I was nervous because I wanted to make her proud,” Dagnino said. “At home, there are always so many things to do, and we don’t really sit down and talk about what I do. This was a good opportunity for her to get to know me a little bit better.”

A lesson in engineering
Dagnino had heard from her daughter that previous presentations from engineers at the school, which features a STEM-focused curriculum, were “very boring,” so the pressure was on to make this one intriguing.

Dagnino engaged more than 300 students throughout, introducing them to the wondrous world of engineering where they are encouraged to use their imaginations daily to find solutions for the greater good.

“Engineering can improve the world around us,” Dagnino told the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. “Everything involves engineering, especially one thing we always take for granted – safe drinking water. There’s a lot of engineering behind drinking water.”

Students heard about the many types of engineering at El Paso Water that work together to give the community safe drinking water – chemical, civil, mechanical and environmental.

A little Q&A
Then it was their turn to ask questions.

“What’s the hardest part of your job?” one asked. “The hardest part is balancing my work life with my family life,” Dagnino replied. “I love what I do, but it’s very demanding. I stay late.”

“Where did you go to college?” another asked. “I went to the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and received my degree from there,” Dagnino said, eliciting whoops from the girls.

And then someone asked, “How did you decide to be an engineer?” She answered confidently, drawing the most whoops. “I really love math and I really love science, but I think one of the biggest things was someone along the line told me that engineering was only for men. I don’t think so!”