Two high schools girls at NYIT's Girls in Engineering and Technology Day

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High School Students Learn About STEM Fields at First Girls in Engineering and Technology Day

May 17, 2019

Pictured: Student attendees learn how to design electronic products using Arduino kits.

On May 4, a group of more than 100 girls from high schools in the New York area convened at NYIT-Long Island to learn about STEM fields and enjoy a day of empowerment and hands-on engineering, computer science, and technology activities at NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Science’s first Girls in Engineering and Technology Day.

The daylong event was established to spark their curiosity and provide an opportunity for them to explore and learn about STEM fields. “Without having any previous experience, they get to be curious among their peers and explore a technical workshop, and get excited about learning a new skill,” said Maryam Rahmani, Girls in Engineering and Technology co-chair and principal at Maryam Rahmani LLC. “I feel that this environment really encourages them.”

Diana Gonzalez, laboratory engineer at the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, assisted by NYIT students, led three workshops, including Introduction to Software Development and Cybersecurity. They also learned how to design electronic products using Arduino.

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Diana Gonzalez leads a workshop at the College of Engineering and Computing Science’s first Girls in Engineering and Technology Day.

The NYIT student volunteers—who represent many of the engineering clubs at the university including the NYIT chapters of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)—spoke to the high school girls about the various degrees within engineering and the many programs offered at NYIT.

“Girls in Engineering and Technology Day was a great event that taught me a lot in terms of communicating with the high school girls who are interested in STEM fields,” said Yuki Gao, an electrical and computer engineering major and president of the NYIT-New York City IEEE student chapter. “I enjoyed the time I spent with them because they are the future. [They are the ones who will] break down stereotypes and bridge the gap between gender ratios in the STEM field.”

The day also featured workshops and sessions by industry partners, including a session on the Internet of Things by software developer Temboo; a drone workshop by Vince Socci, IEEE Region 1 past director; and a talk on Building Leadership with Diversity by Charlotte Blair, Ph.D., lead application engineer at Ansys, an engineering simulation company. At the IBM Research booth company representatives Mercy Bodarky, Lorraine Herger, and Shekeba Moshref performed live demonstrations.

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Students learn about the internet of things at a workshop led by representatives from Temboo.

In addition, the high school students had the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers Justine Smith, vice president of intermediates, North America at BASF; Mary Ellen Seale, chief executive officer and founder of the National Cybersecurity Society; and DeAndra Jean-Louis, vice president of professional services at Anaplan. The keynote speakers delivered inspiring talks, sharing their experiences as women in STEM and how they worked their way to the leadership positions.

In her keynote, Smith talked about her career journey, highlighting the challenges she faced as a woman as well as the lessons she learned along the way. Seale discussed the importance of being flexible and adaptable in the ever-changing job market. And Jean-Louis shared her unique experiences as a female Silicon Valley executive and offered her advice to girls entering STEM fields.

“Engineering and technology careers are all about problem-solving, creativity and design, and making the world a better place,” said Babak Beheshti, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences. “The rapid change in technology means that STEM careers will continue to be exciting, with new and exciting opportunities and technologies always coming around the bend.”

“The NYIT Girls in Engineering and Technology Day provided a friendly and inspiring space for high school girls to explore and learn about STEM fields,” said Rahmani. “[They] heard from women engineers who are leaders in the industry and participated in hands-on workshops. The Arduino workshop peaked many of the participants’ interests, including my daughter’s. What NYIT is doing is incredibly important. Less than 11 percent of bachelor’s degrees in electrical or computer science are being awarded to girls. Gender diversity propels innovation and supports our nation’s urgent needs for a skilled workforce in cybersecurity and many other engineering disciplines.”