Wayne State University’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation (MCWT) will host a one-day interactive tech expo for 4th to 12th grade girls on Thursday, April 19, on the second floor of the Student Center Building.
Dubbed GET-IT Day (short for Girls Exploring Together-Information Technology), the event will host between 550 and 600 girls from Detroit Public Schools, Dearborn Public Schools, Southfield Public Schools and Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.
College of Engineering Community Engagement Director Jasmine Roberson said the goal of GET-IT Day is to inspire girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in college. Events like GET-IT Day are some girls’ earliest introductions to robotics, science and computer coding.
“We want to support at a young age to help close the technology gap. When it comes to girls, we need diversity in the STEM field,” Roberson said.
Wayne State University has hosted summer STEM workshops for K-12 students in the past, but this is the first such one-day workshop to be held on campus. From 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., girls will explore technology and computer science through demonstrations, activities and hands-on workshops.
Activities such as a “code maze” encourage not only coding but also creativity and teamwork. In the code maze activity, the girls must introduce code into a tablet-controlled robot — known as Sphero — so that the machine can navigate an interactive maze design.
“This program has been a huge success for MCWT since its inception, as we have really begun to make a difference in this community by exposing young girls to IT career paths at younger ages,” said MCWT President Rebecca Bray. “As we continue our work toward addressing women in STEM, we are excited to partner with these organizations to showcase the possibilities for these young adults. These girls are our future talent here in Michigan.”
Companies sponsoring GET-IT Day include Ford Motor Company, Summit Polymers, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Carhartt. AT&T, Cisco and Microsoft are co-sponsors.
The event is part of a broader push by Wayne State to encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM. This summer, the College of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science will offer several camps designed to help elementary, middle and high school students develop skills in engineering and computer science, including the Camp Infinity effort, which provides STEM education to girls ages 9 to 13.
“Our college educates and invests in the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, which includes not only our current student body but also the youth that participate in programs on our campus, such as GET-IT Day,” said College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi. “We want to develop a more diverse talent pool of engineers at the grassroots level while giving underrepresented people interested in STEM an opportunity to shine.”