New Jersey High School Girls Participate in AAUW-NJ’s teentech 2013 at Rutgers University
Photo: Teenagers participating in an engineering activity at teentech at Rutgers. Photo Credit: AAUW-NJ
Teenagers participating in an engineering activity at teentech at Rutgers. | AAUW-NJ

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, Rutgers University (Piscataway, NJ) hosted its AAUW-NJ’s teentech 2013 event for high school girls and educators across the Garden State.

The objective: to connect girls to technology throughout the state.

The series of workshops were sponsored by the college’s engineering department and American Association of University Women-NJ (AAUW-NJ), partnering with the NJ Technology and Engineering Educators Association (NJTEEA), the NJ School Counselors Association (NJSCA), the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the U.S. Department of Labor-Women’s Bureau (USDOL-WB).

The tech event provided 256 girls and 34 educators with collaborative workshops that promoted opportunities available in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and inspired the girls to discover the various high-demand, well-paying careers in technology areas.

AAUW-NJ became involved in teentech some 15 years ago after a report called  Gender Gaps, issued by the national AAUW Association highlighting the vast difference in involvement and achievement between men and women in technology careers, was published.

“We…planned an exciting day designed to give the girls direct experience with the many facets [of] technology, from building bridges to designing a roller coaster,” said Thomas N. Farris, dean of Rutgers School of Engineering, who is excited about the program, “We want them to understand the value and impact the technology field has on improving the world we live in, while also experiencing the excitement and creativity that an engineering career offers.”

The girls received the option of attending two out of the seven workshops offered, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, while the educators participated in one workshop during the first session and a career panel discussion held during the second. The workshops included: ‘Take a Seat’-designing a weight-bearing chair through the use of cardboard and duct tape materials, ‘Walk with Tech’-constructing a prosthetic leg and ‘Cleaning Green’-separating oil from water.

The feedback from teentech was favorable overall, with the girls enthusiastic about the products they developed.

Danielle Romero, executive director of NJTEEA, and a technology teacher at Roselle High School, stressed the importance of teentech and how it reinforced the group’s continuing efforts in gathering more young women into practical technology. Similarly, James Lukach, executive director of NJSCA, embraced the prospect for its members to learn about Rutgers and careers in technology. Grace Protos, USDOL-WB’s regional director, specifically encouraged opportunities in ‘green’ technology.

“AAUW’s recently published follow-up report, Why So Few?, tells us that the problem still exists. In fact, the number of women involved in what we call the STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) has actually decreased,” said Jean Wadsworth, AAUW-NJ’s project director for teentech.

 “AAUW-NJ is determined to do whatever we can to ensure that our young women are positioned to take full advantage of lucrative, exciting, fulfilling technology careers, and, at the same time, reach their full potential as contributors to our country’s continued competitiveness as a world economic power.”

AAUW-NJ and its partners plan to continue teentech as an annual NJ event, leading girls in the direction toward technology-based courses and careers.

The high school participants included: Belleville High School, Marlboro High School, Morristown High School, Marine Academy of Science and Technology (Sandy Hook), Abraham Clark High School (Roselle), Bloomfield and Newark Techs, High Point Regional High School, West Morris Regional High School, Egg Harbor Township High School, Linden High School and New Brunswick High School, to name a few.     

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