Given an opportunity on a recent Friday to tour a magnificent New York City four-story penthouse apartment sitting atop the Beresford, one of Central Park West’s most famous buildings, a group of 15 teenage girls did what teenage girls do: snapped a bunch of selfies. … The occasion was the graduation of the first class of Brown Scholars: high school girls who, over the course of a semester, spent 120 classroom hours at the American Museum of Natural History learning how to write computer code. The program is called BridgeUp: STEM, and it has been funded by a $7.5 million gift from the trust of Ms. Brown, who died three years ago and whose preferred app was a typewriter.
This past weekend, Black Girls Code held its second hackathon of 2015. Eighty young Black girls in Brooklyn teamed up with over 50 mentors to design and code apps related to social justice. At the end of the 3-day event, judges analyzed the apps and awarded $2,000 to the team who created Mana, an app that allows students to study together virtually. The second-place team created an app called BeeU, which offers support to kids who have been bullied. When our tech industry is overwhelmingly dominated by white men, it’s so inspiring to see people create these spaces for young women of color to pursue their passions alongside mentors who they can relate to.
hello to all of you newly graduated high schoolers! if you’re thinking about majoring in engineering or something STEM-related… go for it! but isn’t it crazy how many types there are? i mean, how are you supposed to know right from the start which one is the perfect fit for you? well, let me learn you something… or try to… so that your journey doesn’t have to be so haphazard. and YES! computer science is considered engineering too.
choosing your disciple isn’t easy. do some research, look into the different types (mechanical, aerospace, electrical, petroleum, chemical, etc) and see which ones jumps out at you. maybe you already have a strong interest or underlying talent in those realms. whatever you choose though, may not be your final decision. keep in mind that most colleges offer “intro to engineering” courses that allow you to find your engineering niche. you could even go undecided, like i did, and choose after spending a semester or two in your courses.
your college of engineering is there to help! go straight into the office, say your hellos, and ask if there are any alumni/alumnae and/or upperclassman that they could get you into contact with to ask some questions and advice. more than likely, they’re going to say yes! i had so much help from upperclassman and professionals already in the engineering industry who guided me into choosing which disciple and in motivating me to continue my studies.
go to office hours or at least try talking to your professor every now and then. if you are struggling in a class, let them know. most professors will not help you unless you reach out first and it’s also a way to show them that you care and have been paying attention. at least once professors will have dealt with a student who has whined, complained, and cried their way into attempting to change their grade… and it won’t work. so build that relationship with your professor and get to know them–most of them aren’t all that bad!
if you are struggling, take a deep breath and relax. if you are unable to attend office hours, find the TA, or look into on-campus tutoring sessions. you’re bound to find something! sometimes, online resources can help. it’s up to you!
a bad grade does not define you. trust me on this one. engineering is known to be hard and not everyone is a perfect student. 6 times out of 10 (i’m making up this statistic but i find it true from my own experiences) someone else either got the same grade or lower. if you get a bad score, re evaluate what you did wrong, identify what you can change, and redirect yourself so you can do better. (i got a 60 on my first linear algebra exam, changed some things around like my study habits and outlook, and got a 97 on my second exam. change works!)
lastly, it is okay to switch to a different major. you are not a failure if you discover that you have a passion in a different area of study. in fact, finding your passion and your true area of study is what’s most important. there are too many students that are killing themselves to pass engineering courses because they merely want the prestige that comes along with it. the real prestige comes from loving your studies, having those undeniable skills, and excelling in executing them creatively.
there’s a lot more advice, but some of it you learn through your own experiences. i wish everyone the best of luck in their college endeavors, whether it’s your first, second, third year… etc. knowledge is power!
In 2001, George W. Bush banned almost all human embryonic stem cell research. scientists were immediately forced to explore other avenues. But with their potential to take on the form of any cell in the body, stem cells had been (and still are) an enormously promising research avenue. So in 2011, Divya Nag started her own company focused on stem cells derived from skin cells. But she wasn’t done there.
This spring, after a nationwide social media callout and with the help of NPR member stations, we received nearly 200 nominations for diverse innovators who are breaking new ground in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. We picked 14 finalists to feature as part of the #RaceOnTech series on the radio and on social media.
We’ve been featuring a few of these finalists here on Tumblr throughout our four-day-long Twitter conversation with 12 of the innovators. To learn more about the discussion, check out #RaceOnTech on Twitter.
Balanda Atis is a chemist and the manager of the Women of Color Lab, L’Oreal USA. Atis was born in Brooklyn and is of Haitian heritage. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Rutgers University and a master’s of science from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s cosmetic science program. Atis has been at L’Oreal USA for nearly two decades, and over the years has worked to create products for women of all color. Determined to find a solution for herself and for women around the world, she formed a task force at L’Oreal and set out on a mission to solve this industry-wide scientific hurdle. It took 7 years, but because of her work, L’Oreal USA rolled out more than 30 new shades of foundation for various ethnicities.
NPR: Do you have any advice for young people of color?
Balanda Atis: I hope young women realize there are careers in the innovation behind beauty and are inspired by the groundbreaking work women do to address the needs of everyone around the world. I hope they feel encouraged and more open-minded about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and are aware that women can be leaders in STEM. My advice would be to stay curious and explore different career paths in STEM. I never expected to work for a global beauty company and work on developing, experimenting and innovating beauty products. Working in the beauty industry offers you the chance to leverage innovation to help people around the world feel confident and beautiful. Working in the beauty industry allows you to be in the driver’s seat of innovation – of new formulas, products, packaging, research – and reinvent the future of beauty. There’s a deep connection with STEM, innovation and beauty, and working for a global beauty company empowers you to make a true impact on people all around the world.
Top photo: Balanda Atis in the L’Oréal USA Women of Color Lab in Clark, N.J. Bottom photo: Atis (left) evaluates skin tones at the Neighborhood Awards in Las Vegas. Photos courtesy of L’Oreal USA
On July 15, people all over the world watched a woman in a cubicle wait for a signal from three billion miles away. In a soft, clear voice, she confirmed that the New Horizons spacecraft had flown within 7,800 miles of Pluto and survived. In the following days, the spacecraft transmitted images that revealed for the first time what the surface of Pluto looks like. It has a smooth expanse just above its equator, some 1,000 miles wide, that resembles a bright, icy heart. It has frozen mountain ranges and spectral plains that may have only just formed. The detail of the photographs and the geological variety of Pluto exceeded all the hopes of NASA scientists. “I’m still having to remind myself to take deep breaths,” said one.
At the center of it all was Alice Bowman, the woman in the cubicle and the engineer who led the team that guided the spacecraft towards its destination. For a while on July 15, she was trending on Twitter. Some cheered her role as the first woman to oversee an operation so ambitious, one that seems to have had more women working on it than any other mission in NASA’s history. Others wondered why her colleagues kept calling her Mom (it’s NASA shorthand for Mission Operations Manager). One week later, when I spoke to her, she was still stunned by all the attention. Her operation is one of brain-bending complexity, and she told me that it’s not always easy for her to translate what she does into words—at least words that most of us would understand. And she was noticeably uncomfortable discussing certain subjects, such as how the role of women in space exploration has changed since she entered the field in 1988. As she explained what it takes to move a small object through space, and everything that she’s seen along the way, what she conveyed most of all was a sense of pure wonder.
30 girls. 6 fridges. 1 epic race. The 2nd annual Icebox Derby is here. This year, while Chicagoland teens use science to turn recycled fridges into racecars, ComEd is turning your shares into scholarships. It’s simple. Watch. Share. Spark a change.
Silicon Valley admits it has a diversity problem. Companies from Google to Facebook to Twitter have reported that a majority of their employees are white males.
This spring, after a nationwide social media callout and with the help of NPR member stations, we received nearly 200 nominations for diverse innovators who are breaking new ground in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. We picked 14 finalists from around the country to feature as part of the #RaceOnTech series on radio and on social media.
Beginning today, a dozen innovators will live-tweet a day in their lives, using the hashtag #RaceOnTech. Follow @NPRAllTech as NPR’s Davar Ardalan moderates and curates conversations with rising stars and tech and science leaders from Nashville to New Orleans to New York. During the next four days, influencers in the tech and science fields will offer insights and share their own stories.