Lawrence Technological University, in partnership with the Women of AT&T, hosted the second annual Girls in Future Technologies (GIFT) Day Saturday, Sept. 22.
This year’s event in the Marburger STEM Center marked the first time the occasion was hosted on campus. More than 30 girls, mostly hailing from area middle and high schools, engaged in programs aimed at sparking their interest in a STEM career.
“Our goal today is to break down barriers and let the girls to know that you can do this,” said event organizer Denisha Williams, who also serves as a board member and vice president of membership for Women of AT&T.
“Girls need to know that STEM and the evolution of technology does not have to be a male-dominated field,” agreed Shawn Caggins, vice president of programs for Women of AT&T and GIFT Day chair. “The event is designed to educate, inspire and empower young girls to think about how they would like to have an impact on society through STEM.”
After a motivating welcome from Sibrina Collins, executive director of LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, the girls dove into various science and technology-themed activities. They started with a computer coding workshop, which challenged each girl to test their skills in the C programming language. Next, a mother-daughter law enforcement team led a candid talk with the girls about cybersecurity and safety. The dialogue was followed by more hands-on activities such as “Cards to the Sky” – a group engineering exercise which involved building the most effective structure out of playing cards and tape – and an interactive robotics demonstration, featuring a remote-controlled robot from LTU’s own Robofest.
The day ended with a fireside chat led by female professionals in STEM. Crystal Young, Mashia Tate, Angel Turner, and Yakita Turner shared their personal journeys, struggles, career advice, and encouragement with the eager youngsters. Girls of all ages took the opportunity to ask them many questions about career pathways, especially in STEM.
Said one attendee, Shelby, a student at Middle School North in Macomb Township: “I wanted to be a biomedical engineer before coming here today, and after today, I feel more confident” about a career in STEM. Added Nylah, a student at Berkley High School: “The workshops helped me know that I can do different things, and if do go into STEM, I can take some of what I learned today into it.”
Williams said she hopes that next year’s event will draw even more girls from more Detroit-area schools, adding to the momentum and interest towards girls in STEM careers.