Pictured: Dozens of Girl Scouts visited New York Institute of Technology on February 21 for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. They partnered with several NYIT clubs to engage in activities that included robotics, computer sciences, bioengineering, biochemistry and life sciences, 3D printing, virtual reality, mechanical engineering, and more.
New York Institute of Technology partnered with the Girl Scouts of Nassau County at its Long Island campus on February 21 to celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Following a pizza lunch and inspiring talk about opportunities for women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, dozens of middle and high school girls engaged with students and faculty representing NYIT academic and professional organizations to learn more about robotics, computer science, bioengineering, biochemistry and life sciences, 3-D printing, virtual reality, mechanical engineering, and more.
Barbara-Ann Fox, vice president of business solutions at Sensato Cybersecurity Solutions, opened the event by discussing her 20-plus year career in technology and what it was like growing up as a girl interested in STEM. “For me, technology and engineering has been a toy my whole life, and something I have so much fun with,” she said. “The fact that you are here and about that same age when I got started is so exciting to me.”
Barbara-Ann Fox, vice president of business solutions at Sensato Cybersecurity Solutions, opened the event by discussing her 20-plus year career in technology and the opportunities for girls interested in STEM.
She discussed the many opportunities available for women in STEM. “Over the next 40 years, every aspect of society will need to be reinvented,” Fox added. “You’re going to be on the front line, you’re going to be solving problems, you’re going to know how to invent things. You’re going to make things right. Don’t use your words—use your engineering. Build something, prove it out, make a change.”
Following her speech, the girls engaged in various activities organized by NYIT clubs and other organizations that included:
- NYIT Association of Computer Machinery
- NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences Machine Shop
- NYIT Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC)
- NYIT Girl Up
- NYIT Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- NYIT Society of Women Engineers
- NYIT Home for Innovation, Visualization, and Exploration (HIVE)
- NYITCOM Virtual Reality Group
- Potential Synergy Inc.
“We hope to inspire young girls to pursue STEM fields and never be afraid to stand out,” said NYIT student Eboni Odom, president of the Society of Women Engineers. To promote critical thinking skills, her group challenged the girls to build a bridge using only popsicle sticks that had to support each other. “My favorite moment was seeing a group of girls working together and using what we taught them about physics to build the ‘perfect bridge’—a truly inspirational moment for all of us.”
Girl Scouts show off the candy DNA models they built (complete with double helix) at the NYIT Girl Up table.
Other activities included how genetic engineering can be used to make biological tools for research into how human brain cells interact with each other and how these connections are disrupted in diseases such as multiple sclerosis; how 3-D stereoscopic live video is used to create a virtual classroom; using photogrammetry to bring real-world learning materials into digital spaces; programming Arduino kits; coding the Loomo robot from Potential Synergy; how 3-D motion capture works using a special sleeve designed to capture the girls’ movements in real time, and more.
“As the home of doers, makers, and innovators who want to reinvent the future, NYIT is committed to ensuring that future generations, especially young girls, are able to realize their full potential in STEM fields,” said Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., NYIT vice president for strategic communications and external affairs. “It was amazing to see our own students teach the Girl Scouts all the different ways that technology impacts our everyday lives, from engineering to medicine, to digital art and beyond.”
The event was particularly worthwhile as the Girl Scout Research Institute has noted that girls transitioning from elementary school to middle school demonstrate a significant decrease of interest in STEM subjects.
“Having the opportunity to collaborate with higher institutions such as NYIT to provide rich STEM experiences for our girls is invaluable,” said Denise Ingenito, director of Girl Experience and Community at the Girl Scouts of Nassau. “By doing so, we can inspire, encourage, and empower our young women to continue to convert STEM opportunities into successful careers.”
At the HIVE table, Director of Art Media Technology Matthew Cornelius demonstrates how motion capture works as the Girl Scouts took turns wearing a special sleeve that recorded arm and finger movements in real time on a computer.
“This kind of exposure for young girls teaches them that it is possible to pursue any STEM field they may be interested in, and that they are able to knock down any barriers they may face in their path,” said NYIT student Simranjit Kaur, president of Girl Up, whose group showed the Girl Scouts how to build DNA models using off-the-shelf candy. “I hope to see many more young minds show interest in STEM careers and grow into intelligent and vibrant women.”