CONCORD — On Wednesday March 18, NHTI-Concord’s Community College, will proudly host the third annual Girls Technology Day (GTD), an initiative of the New Hampshire Department of Education’s Career Development Bureau. In New Hampshire, and across the country, there is a severe shortage of women pursuing technical careers. Fewer than two percent of students pursuing computer science degrees in NH colleges, for example, are women. Girls Technology Day is one step toward trying to reverse that trend.
The event is a collaboration of every level of education in New Hampshire, including high schools, community colleges, and universities. It is funded in part by a Perkins Grant for non-traditional career development, and grants/donations from NH Space Consortium-NASA, NCSL International, Alexander Technology Group, CTE, Hinton Technical Services, Nextera Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dyn, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, WOKQ, The Shark, WZID, the NH High Tech Council, the American Welding Society, and NHTI-Concord’s Community College.
The group decided to focus on grades 9 and 10, because that is that age at which many young people begin focusing on interests that may ultimately become career paths. Paradoxically, it is also the age at which girls often seem to get “turned off” to math, science and technology. Invitations went out to New Hampshire high schools, but educators were urged not to make the event a mandatory field trip.
The girls will hear from two keynote speakers: Cindy Brown, a former senior executive at Yahoo who is now a senior vice president at Dyn, a cloud-based internet performance company based in Manchester, NH; and Meghan Haidul, Fire Protection Engineer for the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.
The rest of the day will consist of a series of hands-on workshops exploring various high technology topics. Students will be able to attend four of the available sessions, including:
The workshops will be led by educators and business leaders from various New Hampshire universities, community colleges and industries.
During their lunch break the students will attend a technology exhibition in the NHTI gym. Featured exhibitors include several area schools (UNH, UNH Manchester, Manchester Community College and host NHTI), high-tech businesses (BAE, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Due to overwhelming demand during the program’s first two years, Girls Technology Day has actually grown beyond the bounds of a single day. GTD 2 – with a somewhat different lineup of speakers and workshops – will be held on Thursday March 19 at Manchester Community College in order to accommodate the over 500 girls who are registered to attend so far. Clearly there are young women out there who are interested in technology, if only they are given the chance to explore the many possibilities open to them.
NHTI, Concord’s Community College, is a fully accredited, public community college serving students, businesses and the community by providing excellent academic, technical and professional education. NHTI offers over 70 academic programs to more than 4,500 students. NHTI is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire.