Experiments and exploring.
Testing limits and trying new things.
That’s how Georgia Tech’s TEC Camp is introducing the next generation to the magic of engineering and science. And from the looks of things, that future is increasingly female.
“I’ve never used a soldering iron before,” says 12-year old Jenabou Barry. The Main Street Academy student is one of dozens of young women getting a glimpse of what her own future could look like.
“It makes me feel like I’m actually going to be an engineer when I grow up.” Barry is laser-focused, fixing wires to a circuit board. "We're building a robot that is hand-controlled." Her eyes light up when she's asked what it's for. "We're going to the pool they did the Olympics in, and we're going to race them."
Under the watchful eyes of an all-female counseling squad, these rising seventh and eighth graders are cutting PVC pipe and using power drills to make sure designs will be ready for the water.
Barry and her teammates take turns applying solder to their aquatic craft. “I think I’m getting the hang of it!” she says.
Her counselor, Sofia Eidizadeh, helps her use a desoldering pump to remove the excess solder from the soon-to-be swimming robot.
“This is such a critical age,” says Eidizadeh. “You’re just starting to figure out who you are.”
When Eidizadeh was 12 years old, she was in tears the night before she set to come to Georgia Tech for TEC Camp.
“I’m not good at science, I’m not good at math. It’s a boy thing,” she sobbed to her mother.
Incoming Georgia Tech first year student and TEC camp senior counselor Sofia Eidizadeh looks on as a group of campers takes on a soldering challenge to build an underwater robot.
Six years later and Eidizadeh has been back every year, worked her way up to become a counselor and is set to start her first year in industrial engineering this fall at Georgia Tech. Talk about a complete 360.
“The people in this Women in Engineering program became my role models. For the first time I could envision myself doing things like that.” she says.
Every day for a week, these middle schoolers traversed Georgia Tech’s campus, visiting classrooms and laboratories, hearing from women about STEM career possibilities, and getting behind-the-scenes access to high-profile projects and high-tech provisions many college students haven’t yet experienced.