1/3/19 ACC hosts STEM event for young girls

Girl-powered tech
Emelia Roux, a ninth-grade student from Walter Williams High, looks over the plants given by the Alamance Community College Horticulture Department at Girls Take Tech in the Advanced Applied Technology Center. The National Science Foundation funded event encourages young women to enter STEM fields.

Robert Thomason / Times-News

Emelia Roux, a ninth-grade student from Walter Williams High, looks over the plants given by the Alamance Community College Horticulture Department at Girls Take Tech in the Advanced Applied Technology Center. The National Science Foundation funded event encourages young women to enter STEM fields.

ACC hosts STEM event for young girls
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 1/3/19     
Reprinted with permission.  

Tess Shepherd, demonstrates welding to Aaliya Carson, a seventh-grade student at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, at the Alamance Community College Girls Take Tech in the Advanced Applied Technology Center.  

Tess Shepherd, demonstrates welding to Aaliya Carson, a seventh-grade student at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, at the Alamance Community College Girls Take Tech in the Advanced Applied Technology Center.

 

GRAHAM – Sparks lit up the welding lab at the Advanced Applied Technology Center, Wednesday, Jan. 2, as Alamance Community College hosted its second annual Girls Take Over Tech night.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the event aims to encourage young women to enter STEM fields by inviting them to tour the AATC and watch demonstrations performed by female ACC students and instructors.

Miranda Kotarba passed out safety equipment and let the girls try welding for themselves, sending them off with smiles on their faces and a piece of metal they welded with their own two hands.

Kotarba said she’s seen more women enter the program each year since 2015, but the field — like many STEM fields — is still predominantly male-led.

Only four out of the roughly 50 students in the automotive program at ACC are women.

Automotive Assistant Program Instructor Ricketta Self said she hoped this event would encourage more girls to enroll.

“Automotive is a place for girls to be,” Self said. “I don’t think it’s as hard to break into as it used to be. More of the garages are accepting that they need some females there, if nothing else, to connect to their female customers.”

In the mechatronics engineering lab, Libby Belvin and Staasha Canty, both second year students graduating this semester, showed off the different types of “robots” students can make in classes.

Canty said she wanted to enter the mechatronics field to work with her hands — and the money isn’t bad either. Salaries range from $50,000 to over $100,000, depending on experience. And the jobs are out there waiting.

Executive Director of the Alamance Community College Foundation Carolyn Rhode presented a list of local employers including AKG, Cox Toyota, GKN Driveline and Fairystone Fabrics, all of whom are looking for skilled workers.

“All the local employers that I’ve mentioned are hiring,” Rhode said. “They call me. They say they have jobs. They call the department heads in this building and say, ‘I have jobs. When are you going to get me more people? I have jobs and I’m willing to pay and have good benefits.’ So remember that. We have jobs in this community.”

Getting hired doesn’t have to cost a fortune in college tuition either.

The Alamance-Burlington School System’s Career and Technical Education department was there to spread the word about the Career and College Promise Program and Career Accelerator Program, both of which offer free tuition to students earning a degree from ACC.

And Rhode emphasized that there are scholarships available.

“I can tell you that if one of you is interested in [a] program and you’re struggling to pay the tuition, I can work with these employers and help you,” Rhode said. “It’s on you to do this because the money and the opportunities are available, so please take us up on that. In some cases, I literally have more scholarship money than I can give away. Parents, did you hear that?”

Overall, the event was about instilling confidence in young girls, and exposing them to careers they might never have considered.

ABSS CTE Director Robin Bowers said, Wednesday, the school system has been fortunate to be able to partner with ACC for such a phenomenal event over the last two years.

“A career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is a great option for all students, but historically has not been considered as often by girls,” Bowers said. “Events such as this highlight all the STEM world has to offer.”