The “Big Bang Theory” High Tech Workshop at Mineral Area College
The workshop frequently referenced the female characters of the hit TV show “Big Bang Theory,” who are in science and technological fields. Cardboard cutouts of the characters from the show were on hand so students could pose with them.
In late November, Mineral Area College made a “Big Bang” during an event to introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) along with other high-tech career options to 160 eighth-grade girls from area school districts.
The event incorporated engineering careers promoted by a nationally-recognized, non-profit, tech curriculum generator Project Lead the Way. Careers in biomedical, architecture, civil, aerospace, digital electronics, computer information and manufacturing fields were emphasized. Female characters from the hit TV show “Big Bang Theory,” Bernadette the microbiologist and Amy the neuroscientist, were referenced throughout the presentations, and kids were able to get their pictures taken with cardboard cutouts of the characters.
The “Big Bang Theory” High-Tech Workshop was organized by Tanya DeGonia, regional college and career consultant, and Teresa Moore, Farmington Middle School Counselor. PLTW curriculum is offered at Farmington High School, pre-engineering study is offered at MAC. Computer programs are offered at both institutions.
According to DeGonia, who gave the girls a historical review of how far women have come in science and technology careers, women make up close to half of the work force, but the science, technology, engineering and math fields—often referred to as STEM fields—are still underrepresented by women.
“Women think differently than men and we need much diversity on these engineering teams and in the world of work,” she said. “Some schools are providing an all-girls class to empower them to ask questions and ease them into engineering careers where more women may be needed to round out the teams.”
DeGonia said that’s why Kathy Myers was recruited to speak to the students. Myers, who holds a master’s degree in management information systems and has more than 20 years in the IT industry, is president and owner of ALW Solutions Inc., an IT consulting company in Jefferson City. She has managed teams of developers, consultants and managers through the planning, development and completion of numerous IT projects in the life sciences, retail beverage and other industries.
DeGonia said Myers encouraged students to look into the demand in Missouri and across the country for high tech jobs, and encouraged them to seek training. Myers also told them of websites promoting job openings for these positions and the importance of researching these in-demand jobs. “She was passionate about helping the students become more familiar with high tech careers, and she was really persuading them to pursue these careers,” DeGonia said.
Much of the funding for the event came from The Foundation for Missouri Women, the mission of which is to support organizations and programs that create economic opportunities for Missouri women and girls.