560 RI Area High School Girls Explore STEM Careers at GRRL Tech

KINGSTON, RI — Hosted by URI, Tech Collective’s annual interactive technology expo raises STEM awareness, welcomes NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory keynote speaker, awards three scholarships

Over 550 female high school students and 63 educators from 33 Rhode Island area high schools and career and tech centers were welcomed to the University of Rhode Island Kingston campus on Thursday, March 24, 2016 to attend Tech Collective’s 15th annual GRRL Tech Interactive Technology Expo.

Presented by Tech Collective, Rhode Island’s industry association for Information Technology and Bioscience, and hosted by the University of Rhode Island, GRRL Tech (Girls Reaching Remarkable Levels) is an interactive technology expo offering female high school students an engaging look into dynamic and rewarding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) opportunities. Through industry mentoring and hands-on workshops, GRRL Tech aims to raise awareness of the STEM industries and career pathways.

Students attended their choice of two out of 31 workshop offerings designed and conducted by female industry professionals and college faculty. Workshops explored a variety of STEM fields, ranging from bioscience, animal science, and oceanography to engineering, chemistry, personal finance and computer science. High school faculty attended one workshop and one educators’ session. Workshops were held throughout the URI campus, including at the College of Pharmacy and Center for Biotechnology & Life Sciences buildings. More than 90 female industry professionals and university volunteers participated in workshops and helped facilitate the day.

The morning’s Keynote Speaker was Kimberly Kowal Arcand, Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Kim’s work behind Chandra’s online and digital presence has effectively become its connection to the public. Kim’s combined understanding of STEM and the use of technology has led her to some amazing accomplishments, two of which include the creation of the first 3D exploded star model; and bringing to life the international, award winning “From the Earth to the Universe” project and its spin-off public science programs. Kim’s newest project, “Light: Beyond the Bulb” was exhibited at the 2015 International Year of Light observance hosted by the United Nations.

“Two decades ago, I was studying biology and computer science on this very campus and I would have loved to have had such an opportunity as GRRL Tech beforehand,” said Arcand. “Programs such as this provide insight into real world applications that are invaluable to so many different kinds of careers in STEM and beyond. Some of the workshops also align well with the priorities recently announced in Governor Raimondo’s #CS4RI initiative”.

The afternoon closed with the announcement of the 2016 GRRL Tech Scholarship winners. Three URI scholarships – valued at $4,000 per year for four years – were awarded to:

  • Yanelly Tejada, The Greene School
  • Viviana Barrientos, Wm. Davies Career and Technical High School
  • Sophie Girard, North Kingston High School

Awarding the scholarships were URI’s Naomi Thompson, Associate Vice President for the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity and Dr. Dean Libutti, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management. Scholarship winners were selected based on their essay submissions and high school transcripts by the GRRL Tech Selection Committee.

“The response to this year’s GRRL Tech has been absolutely amazing! We will reach 700 students, teachers, volunteers, schools and presenters this year – more than ever before,” said JoAnn Johnson, Manager of Youth and Education Programs at Tech Collective.  Every year we continue to add many cutting edge STEM workshops including Cosmology, Nuclear Science and Artificial Intelligence which raises student and educator awareness of career opportunities in these growing and in-demand fields.   We are very grateful to URI, our sponsors and volunteers for their continued participation and support.”

Sponsors & Partners:

GRRL Tech is presented by Tech Collective, Rhode Island’s Industry Association for Information Technology and Bioscience. It has been hosted for the fifth year by the University of Rhode Island at its Kingston Campus. On behalf of all involved, we are grateful to GRRL Tech’s 2015 sponsors and partners: University of Rhode Island, Governor’s Workforce Board-RI, Atrion, IBM, EpiVax, Dassault Systèmes Simulia Corp., Amica, Southern New England Girls Collaborative, Junior Achievement of Rhode Island, and National Center for Women & Information Technology 

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched by the Space Shuttle on July 23, 1999, detects X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes.  NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

Tech Collective:
Tech Collective is Rhode Island’s Information Technology and Bioscience Industry Association. We foster the growth, innovation, and economic momentum of Rhode Island’s high-tech industries and workforce. Collaborating with local and national government, industry, and academic partners, Tech Collective programs directly impact Rhode Island. Since its transition from the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) in 2004, Tech Collective has received more than $12M in federal, state, and private grant funding. Awards and funding include Governor’s Workforce Board RI Industry Partnerships, Real Jobs RI, Ready to Work/ Tech Force RI, and national recognition with the state of Rhode Island from President Obama’s TechHire initiative.

Get connected to Tech Collective at www.tech-collective.org, on LinkedIn (Tech-Collective), on Twitter (@Tech_Collective), and onFacebook (TechCollectiveRI).


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