STEM Activation Program Helps Utah Girls Prepare for Tech Careers
The Utah-based Women Tech Council today launched the first expansion event of its SheTech program to provide access to hands-on tech experiences and mentorship with industry experts to high school girls across the state and in rural areas to engage and inspire them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and careers.
The SheTech expansion was launched in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Department of Workforce Services through a grant from Talent Ready Utah. By inspiring and engaging girls across the state and especially in rural areas to pursue STEM, SheTech aims to accomplish the state’s goal of creating the skilled workforce needed to continue Utah’s strong economic growth, especially in an area known as Silicon Slopes, located between Salt Lake City, Provo and Park City.
“Because women are a critical part of the technology economy, we want girls in all regions to realize the opportunities that STEM education and careers provide them,” said Cydni Tetro, president of the Women Tech Council, in a statement. “By expanding this program and ensuring that all girls in Utah have access to industry and mentoring regardless of where they live, we are helping to develop our economy and ensure the state’s success.”
Friday’s expansion event, called SheTech Explorer Day, was done in partnership with Weber State University in Ogden, UT. More than 400 high school girls from Box Elder to Rich to North Salt Lake participated to earn industry certifications, problem solve with mentors from more than 30 companies and explore STEM careers through activities like robotics, aerospace dynamics, 3D printing and virtual reality.
Through these tech experiences, opportunities to problem solve and present, and one-on-one mentoring with professionals from companies including Pluralsight, Wadman Engineering, Dealertrack, Rocky Mountain Power and MarketStar, students gained skills, confidence and inspiration to pursue STEM courses and careers.
Additional future events will continue to expand the programs reach, especially in rural areas. Research from previous events shows 93 percent of participating high school girls are interested in pursuing STEM careers after taking part in SheTech Explorer Day.
“The SheTech expansion will greatly benefit students in rural Utah,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED, in a statement. “The Talent Ready Utah partnership will allow us to train and inspire students by connecting them to high-demand, high-paying jobs. We are committed to extending Utah's economic success beyond the Wasatch Front.”
Beyond Explorer Day, SheTech provides participating high school girls continual engagement with the STEM industry by helping them gain internships, learn about college scholarships and find courses that match their interests in their school and district, according to a news release.
Another SheTech Explorer Day will be held May 8 at Southern Utah University in Cedar City to broaden access of the program into additional rural communities. Additional events will also be held at sites in Colorado and Idaho in the coming months. By the end of the year, the SheTech program is anticipated to reach and impact more than 10,000 high school girls to pursue STEM careers.
Students, parents or schools interested in getting involved with SheTech or participating in other Explorer Days should visit the SheTech Explorer website.
Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].