Emily Bayuk '21 wants to help more young girls discover the wonder she finds in electrical engineering. Emily Paine, Communications
"A lot of what I'm learning about now I didn't even hear about when I was growing up. And I feel like if I knew about it, it would have made me that much more interested in engineering. I want as many kids as possible to be introduced to it at a younger age — especially girls."
Growing up, Emily Bayuk '21 was fascinated with the way electricity whizzes around a circuit at lightning speed. She remembers getting a talking doll as a present and being much more interested in how its circuitry played a recording when she pushed a button than in anything the doll had to say.
Bayuk wanted to learn more about circuitry and exactly how it worked, but she didn't find many books in her hometown library or bookstores that spoke to her particular interest beyond dry texts — until, that is, she decided to create her own.
Over many months in her senior year of high school, Bayuk broke down the lessons she was learning in physics class to a level that middle-grade readers could understand. She then lovingly illustrated each page of the work she called The Fundamentals of Circuits Made Easy.
Now an electrical engineering major with a Russian studies minor at Bucknell, Bayuk is hoping to help a new generation of girls discover the same scientific miracles that magnetized her interest when she was a kid and open doors for women in the still male-dominated world of engineering.
As she takes more classes in her major, Bayuk is authoring accompanying books that explicate the classes' core concepts for younger readers. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications
At the start of her junior year, with encouragement from her electrical engineering professors, Bayuk decided to self-publish her bullet-journal-style book through Amazon.com. As she takes more classes in her major, Bayuk is authoring accompanying books that explicate the classes' core concepts for younger readers.
During Bayuk's senior year, she developed her first book into an educational storytelling series she calls The STEM Diaries, which aims to shape the future of women in STEM by simplifying complex topics, igniting curiosity and building confidence in girls ages 7 and up. This series includes a retitled Circuits as well as a second entry, a virtual escape room to interactively teach about circuits, and an accompanying merchandise line and Instagram account. Bringing complex technical concepts down to a grade-school level is a challenge, especially as Bayuk progresses to more advanced engineering courses, but it's also an effort she passionately believes in.
"A lot of what I'm learning about now I didn't even hear about when I was growing up," says Bayuk, who grew up in Bedford, N.Y. "And I feel like if I knew about it, it would have made me that much more interested in engineering. I want as many kids as possible to be introduced to it at a younger age — especially girls."
A Personal Mission
Bayuk's mission is a personal one that reflects her own story. She loved math from the second grade, when her grandfather, a computer engineer from the industry's fledgling years, began teaching her the basics of algebra. But by the time she reached high school, Bayuk began to realize that as her math and science classes became more advanced, the field's gender gap became more pronounced. By the time she took an AP physics course her senior year of high school, she was one of only three women left.
Bayuk doesn't want young women who share her interests to feel that isolation, but she notes in her introduction to Circuits that statistics show her experience is far from unique. Less than 20% of bachelor's degrees in engineering and computer science are awarded to women, according to the National Science Board.
"Why are women underrepresented if they are equally qualified? Perhaps it is a lack of interest. I want to change that," she writes. "If they are intrigued at a young age, perhaps we can change the trajectory of women in engineering."
Bayuk is working to effect change on Bucknell's campus too. In 2021, she helped create an Affinity House at Bucknell called Sunnyside, a residential living-learning community that fosters a community of leadership, support and empowerment among motivated and high-achieving women at Bucknell.
"We're aiming to provide an inclusive hub for positively charged innovation and collaboration to enhance the college experience for all students on campus," she says.
Off-campus, she's led activities based on her book at the Lewisburg Children's Museum to introduce elementary school students to the wonders that once captivated her interest. As she prepares for a career in STEM (Bayuk will be working in cybersecurity for Accenture after graduation) she's also sharing her experiences as a female electrical engineer and author in speaking engagements with groups of young girls. She's hoping the momentum she's building will eventually lead to The STEM Diaries being sold in stores and carried in school districts, giving her the opportunity to reach a much larger audience.