DETROIT – A group of 450 girls from 15 Detroit-area middle schools and high schools spent a day at a university campus last week to explore facets of computer science. They worked with mini robots, experienced a roller coaster through virtual reality goggles, used Bluetooth to control a basketball, and learned about design thinking and digital footprints.
The April 19 program, called Girls GET IT Day, is a partnership between the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation and the Wayne State University chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Volunteers from Novares, Ford and WSU-SWE led the planning of the annual event.
“Hosting this event at a college was perfect; the girls walked away confident, excited about the possibilities and eager to learn more,” said MCWT Executive Director Chris Rydzewski. “It’s an opportunity to show them how fun a technology career can be beyond what is covered in school textbooks. Through women IT professionals and hands-on learning, we want to pique their interest and keep them engaged throughout the year.”
The girls, spanning 4th through 12th grade, interacted with role models from MCWT’s corporate sponsors who presented during sessions and demonstrated how they use IT in their companies. A variety of businesses supported workshops, such as Ford, WSU-SWE, Summit Polymers, Gartner, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Optomi, Dow, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Carhartt, Tata Consultancy Services, and Faurecia. Expo participants included Microsoft, AT&T and Cisco. Dominos provided lunch.
“MCWT has really begun to make a difference by exposing young girls to IT career paths at younger ages,” said MCWT President Rebecca Bray. “As we continue to address the women in STEM issue, we are excited to partner with others to showcase the possibilities. These girls are our future talent here in Michigan.”
Wayne State University Society of Women Engineers President Sabrina Pakula kicked off the event, followed by a message from Bray. Dr. Farshad Foutouhi, dean of College of Engineering, closed the event and encouraged the girls to participate in more STEM programs.
The event is part of MCWT’s after-school GET-IT clubs where girls have opportunities to explore a growing career field, enhance math and science skills and boost confidence. The clubs prepare them for college and while strengthening teamwork, problem-solving and organizational abilities. More than 1,640 girls have participated in Girls GET IT Day – previously called Girls are IT – since its launch in 2014.
MCWT also is preparing for its weeklong Camp Infinity interactive summer technology camps. Registration fills fast and is now open at mcwt.org.
The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation’s vision is to make Michigan the No. 1 state for women in technology. The organization supports Michigan’s female IT workforce, students, corporate partners, schools and the overall community with programming, scholarships, networking, learning, mentoring, and technology experiences.