• April 4, 2019

    Upper St. Clair hosts third annual Women in STEAM event

    Women in STEAM event Sixteen Upper St. Clair High School students participated in the third annual Women in STEAM event on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. The event, organized by science teacher Douglas Petrick, is designed to build awareness of career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.  

    Mr. Petrick believes that events like Women in STEAM are important for young women to see and learn from strong, female role models in historically male-dominated fields.

    “It is important for young women to hear about the experiences of other women. It gives them the ability to envision themselves in similar situations and provides examples of what they might experience in the future,” he said. “More importantly, the event provides young women with the opportunity to connect personally with industry professionals and learn valuable life lessons from successful women with engaging and relatable stories to share.”

    The Women in STEAM event featured three components: an introduction by each of the six speakers to share how she became interested in her chosen STEAM career path; rotating round table discussions that provided opportunities for small group interaction; and an informal luncheon.

    The panel of speakers encompassed a wide-range of experiences and career positions. Each speaker had a different journey, which resonated with students. Speakers included Alanna Colvin, energy and environment technical advisor for Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP)/Penn State University; Cynthia Kutchko, innovations group leader for PPG; Carrie Hartnett, senior research associate at Magee-Womens Research Institute; Susan Lovett, technology support coordinator for Upper St. Clair School District; Kelly Kuhn, physical therapist at Restorations Physical Therapy; and Lisa Carver, principal at Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel Architects.

    Mr. Petrick hopes that seeing women with various backgrounds and interests who are leading successful careers in STEAM-related fields resonates with students.

    “Each speaker had different experiences and took different paths to get to where they are, but they all shared a curiosity that drove them to be successful,” Mr. Petrick said. “I hope the students are inspired to pursue their career interests without reservation, and realize that they have the power to shape and change their futures.”

    Small groups of three to four students rotated through six different stations – allowing interaction with each of the six speakers. During each 10-minute rotation, the small student groups were able to ask more specific questions that were not addressed in the opening introductions. 

    “In the past, we've found that the small size of the event helps stimulate positive interaction, which is a critical component of the day's programming,” Mr. Petrick said. “After conversing with the speakers, some of the students noted interest in exploring previously unconsidered career paths.”

    In addition to Mr. Petrick, the event was supported by Rebecca Hritz, science teacher, and Guilia Gouker, English teacher, who served as event coordinators. For the third year in a row, Wiley Publishing Company donated funds to help defray the cost of lunch.