Summer program encourages girls to join STEM workforce

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Every summer for the past ten years, the West Virginia University Institute of Technology has offered a STEM camp. The week long program teaches students about science, technology, engineering and math.

This year, for the first time, the university offered a STEM program for females only.

“As a woman I can say we need some encouragement. Somebody to tell us we can do it, so we are putting these girls together,” said Dr. Afrin Naz, a Tech assistant professor of computer science and engineering and director of the new program.

While more females have ventured into STEM programs over the past 10 years, Naz said females are still underrepresented.

“That’s the goal of this camp,” she said. “Bring these girls while they are still young and have their future ahead of them.”

For five days, 24 girls from around the tri-state region learned about electrical engineering, computer science, robotics, biology and chemical engineering. They had the opportunities to speak with women in those fields and complete hands-on tasks, like creating shoes out of paper.

“There are so many things we can do with our life. Instead of just being in nursing, you have more options,” said Bianca Grey, who is going into 9th grade.

The camp costs $350 per student, which includes all activities, food and housing at the university. The school does offer scholarships for half the participants on an as-needed basis.   

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