April 6, 2018
High School hosts Women in STEAM
The second annual Women in STEAM event drew nearly 25 Upper St. Clair High School students on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. The event, organized by science teacher Douglas Petrick, was designed to build awareness of career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
“This event allowed female students the opportunity to ‘see it to be it,’” Mr. Petrick said. “We want female students in high school to understand some of the opportunities available to them that they may have considered. Having successful professionals from STEAM careers – in a wide range of experiences and content – share their journey with female high school students is inspirational.”
The Women in STEAM event featured three components: an informal introduction by each speaker 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. The six speakers included Alicia Avick, president of Advantus Engineers; Claudia Neal, president/owner and engineer of EA Fab Corporation; Alanna Colvin, technical advisor for PennTAP (Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program); Tracy Smith, Upper St. Clair High School physics teacher; Michelle Gilboy, director of consulting services- product development agile transformation consultant, Summa Technologies; and Caroline Harris, Ph.D., senior research manager - automotive coatings, PPG.
Based on feedback from last year, this year’s program allotted more time for roundtable discussions.
“Our students and presenters valued the small group discussions as an important component of the programming,” Mr. Petrick said. “Therefore, we increased the amount of face-to-face time small student groups had with each presenter. Since our mentors/presenters are here to inspire and inform, it made sense to adjust this part of the event as the next logical step.”
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.
Mr. Petrick believes opportunities such as the Women in STEAM event, which enable students to hear and learn from role models within different careers and industries, are important for the future workforce.
“Students in attendance were very excited to be a part of this special event and to hear similarities between the speakers and themselves,” Mr. Petrick said. “No matter what the experience was, each speaker had a similar theme of learning by doing, trying something you are passionate about, and not letting someone else's preconceived notions deter you from your goals.”
In addition to Mr. Petrick, the event was supported by Lynn Kistler, science teacher and curriculum leader; Dr. Tim Wagner, associate principal for program planning and innovation; and Mr. Petrick’s brother Jonathan, who assisted throughout the day. For the second year in a row, Wiley Publishing Company donated funds to help defray the cost of lunch.