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The City Journals

Cottonwood High girls experience the tech world firsthand

Apr 11, 2018 11:40AM ● By Jessica Ivins

Isabel Roman, a student from Cottonwood High, collaborates with her teammates. (Jessica Ivins/City Journals)

Cottonwood High School girls were in for an exciting hands-on learning day March 1 at SheTech. Thirty-one girls went to the Sandy Expo Center with Lori England, career advisor. It is operated by the Women’s Tech Council and is a hands-on tech conference for high school girls.

“This year is the first year that we will stay for the end of the day SheTech challenge,” England explained. The challenge is where they have a chance of winning prizes. 

Isabel Roman, a student from Cottonwood High School, said, “My favorite part of the day was the polymers for medical uses.” It was a day of exploring for the girls and they ended the day at the SheTech Challenge. The 1,200 girls filled the conference room with round tables. Each table had a volunteer from the tech field. 

Roman was the only Cottonwood student at the table working with six other students from various high schools. The challenge—how to design a transportation system for 25,000 people up to the ski resorts? 

The girls were busy drawing and sketching their ideas and would explain why it was the best idea at the conference center. The four areas that the judges were looking at: innovation, impact, implementation and presentation. Each group of girls would have one minute to present. 

Their mentor, Dave Atkisson, an engineer from Western Digital, volunteered and helped each girl at Roman’s table follow the challenge and explain their idea. “Technology is a wide-open field for girls,” Atkisson said. 

Atkisson continued, “While math is important, creativity is necessary. Computers take over the math side of the job and technology needs creative people. This takes collaborative work and this may be part of the job that the girls don’t realize.” 

He told the participants, “Do not be scared of a tech job and think you will be stuck in a cubicle. It is a very social job of collaboration. This may be another misconception of the tech world.”

Cyndi Tetro is the founder and president of the Sandy-based Women’s Tech Council-SheTech. SheTech’s goal is to expose the girls to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). There are less girls going into the tech field now then there were in the 80s. SheTech started three years ago with 300 girls and now has 1,200 girls attending. 

Tetro said 60 percent of girls become interested in the tech field after attending a day like the SheTech Day. The girls worked with other mentors in a variety of classes including robotics, polymers, fog machines, programming robotics, instant snow and a diamond cutting class.  Girls who attended learned about internships and scholarships and received a SheTech certificate and shirt.

Unfortunately, Atkisson and Roman’s table did not win a prize for the best design, but the day was a success. Atkisson said, “We need girls in the tech field, but there still isn’t enough people entering the tech field—meaning boys and girls.” 

England echoed this with, “I do wish there was something for the boys.” It seems there might be competition in the air.