MIT Continues STEM Education Programs Supporting Diversity

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now has the financial support it needs to continue three free STEM education programs for high school and middle school girls. The three STEM education programs “aim to diversify the computer science and engineering community by introducing students who are underrepresented and underserved in the field to computer science. These students include women, students who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and students who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Pacific Islander,” according to MIT.

MIT will use a $1 million gift from the Hopper-Dean Foundation to alleviate costs for the three programs, including reducing or eliminating program fees and providing transportation to students. Additionally, the gift supports publicity and outreach for the Society of Women Engineers at MIT.

The programs are: Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery (SEED) Academy, CodeIt and the Women’s Technology Program.

SEED Academy is a nine-semester program for public middle and high school students from the surrounding area. Students will focus on a single technical area, ranging from mechanical engineering to robotics to synthetic biology, according to the SEED Academy website. Through hands-on instruction, students will understand practical application of math and science concepts.

CodeIt, founded by a team of undergraduate women engineers at MIT, is designed to encourage more girls to explore and pursue computer science. “This is a weekly hands-on program for middle school girls with little or no programming experience. You will develop computer science skills, participate in interactive workshops and connect with other students,” according to the CodeIt website. Students work with experienced MIT mentors to learn fundamental programming concepts.

Lastly, the Women’s Technology Program works with high school girls to spark their interest in the future study of engineering and computer science. The four-week academic and residential summer program is designed for girls who are outstanding in math and science, but have had few opportunities to explore engineering or computer science. Participants work closely with female teachers and mentors on hands-on, team-based projects.

The Hopper-Dean Foundation is a California nonprofit supported by Heidi Hopper and Jeffrey Dean. The foundation has made similar donations to other institutions in the past, including a $1 million donation to support diversity initiatives at the University of California, Berkeley made earlier this year.

Further information about the three programs is available on the MIT News site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].