On May 1, more than 90 high school students attended the virtual College of Engineering and Computing Sciences’ Women in Engineering and Technology Day. The annual event was established in 2019 for high school students who are curious about engineering and technology to experience a day of engineering, computing science, and technology activities and to be inspired by women leaders in STEM. During the event, the high school students participated in interactive technology workshops, heard from successful women industry professionals, and connected with current New York Tech students and alumni.
The event kicked off with opening remarks by New York Tech President Hank Foley, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Junius Gonzales, M.D., M.B.A., and Babak Beheshti, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences.
“Think of all the technologies, devices, and products that have had profoundly changed the human condition for the better: robotic surgery, biotechnology, pacemakers, hearing aids, solar-powered water-well pumps, and so on,” said Beheshti in his opening remarks. “What I hope is that the end of today’s event will be the beginning for you, the beginning of your exploration of the exciting disciplines that positively impact social justice, humanity, and quality of life, and yet provide you with a financially rewarding career.”
New York Tech Students Take the Lead
Throughout the event, 16 New York Tech student volunteers assisted with workshops, participated in panel discussions, and represented their student engineering clubs.
“It was a pleasure speaking to high school and middle school students about my experience as a computer science major,” said Sabreena Naser, president of the Society of Women Engineers student chapter at New York Tech. “I enjoyed answering the questions that they had for us, and I really hope that we inspired them to join the STEM fields and ultimately break the stigma of inequality of women in STEM.”
Added Jigme Tobgyal, a computer science major and student leader for the NYIT Ventures club, “Meeting with the high school students reminded me of myself a few years ago. I let them know that they’re on the right path.” He spoke to the participants about the importance of getting involved.
Harminderjeet Kaur, a mechanical engineering major, assisted New York Tech Laboratory Engineers David Fanning and Jim Kelleher during the manufacturing workshop. The workshop introduced participants to design, prototyping, and manufacturing processes to take a concept from paper (computer-aided design) to parts (manufacturing) to assembly (completion and testing).
“It was so empowering to be able to see young women who are so ambitious,” said Kaur. “I was able to help and give advice to high school students regarding their major and student life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for women in STEM.”
Christopher Springston, graduate advisement specialist, led an Arduino workshop, which introduced the high school students to the open-source electronics platform.
“This event is about more than introducing women to the wonders of engineering; it’s about helping to shape the future. It’s a chance for these young minds to learn more about STEM and help to spark their interest. It’s about tearing down the stereotypes and encouraging people to pursue whatever field may interest them, and showing them the possibilities that lie ahead.” said Springston.
The Computer Networking workshop led by Folashade Alawiye, New York Tech laboratory engineer, explored how devices are connected to form a network and allowed participants to put their understanding into practice by using an inbuilt network simulator to create their own simulated computer network.
Michael Nizich, Ph.D., director of New York Tech’s Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC), hosted a workshop on E.R.R.S.E.L.A., the ETIC Research Robot for Student Engagement and Learning Activities. Participants were introduced to the various concepts of robotics and helped program the robot to perform various tasks based on instructor-led robotic challenges. The participants were challenged with solving various engineering and math problems that were incorporated into a robotic routine moving the robot through its course.
“The COVID-19 crisis has challenged college faculty to come up with new and innovative ways to engage students in hands-on activities. Being part of the 2021 Women in Engineering Technology day at New York Tech has shown me how advanced the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences at New York Tech is at delivering these innovative services to students remotely,” said Nizich. “Students were engaged, intrigued, inquisitive and, most of all, they participated interactively with instructors as doers, makers, and innovators and each and every one of them left with a pathway to reinvent the future.”
The participants also heard from successful women in the engineering and computer science fields during a panel discussion moderated by Rich Humann (B.S. ’91), president and chief executive officer of H2M architects + engineers. The panel included Barbara Porter (B.S. ’00), chief technology officer at Fragrancenet.com; Jacqueline Mason, vice president of technology at Morgan Stanley; Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president of technology development and 5G labs at Verizon; Bridget Suski (B.S. ’20), identity and access management specialist at Zebra Technologies; and Danielle Hanson (B.S. ’20), electrical engineer, H2M architects + engineers.