This summer, Verizon Innovative Learning, a Verizon Foundation initiative, chose Patrick Henry Community College as one of five community colleges in the nation to launch a pilot program for training future female leaders in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Verizon’s initiative seeks to address the disparity of women in STEM careers by exposing middle schools girls in rural America to opportunities in STEM with a three-week, hands-on summer camp.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these girls,” says PHCC’s Coordinator of Community Development Programs, Tiffani Underwood. “It will be fun, exciting, and new, but it will also be a chance to discover first-hand what it means to be scientists, engineers, and programmers. We really hope that with exposure to cutting-edge technology and access to high-end equipment these girls will take away a passion for STEM that will lead them to future careers of innovation and success.”
From July 10 to July 28, fifty middle school girls will meet in PHCC’s FabLab at the Dalton IDEA Center to discover the fundamentals of augmented reality, coding, and 3D design. They will meet female mentors and learn entrepreneurship skills and design thinking principles. Leveraging an augmented reality interface and app, students will create a culminating project that identifies – and solves – a community problem that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Following the summer program, students will continue to participate in monthly courses both in-person and virtually, to build upon what they’ve learned and complete their final augmented reality products.
This entire experience is part of Verizon’s nationwide #weneedmore initiative which aims to bring more attention to the critical need for more girls to see the world of possibilities waiting for them in STEM fields. Currently, 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men. For over a decade, this percentage has remained virtually unchanged. With a commitment of $160 million, Verizon is impacting 300,000 students and 7,400 teachers nationwide. PHCC is piloting the program in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). Learn more at www.weneedmore.com