Erie’s Future In Science And Engineering May Be Female

By Sarah Grabski
Erie Times-News, Pa.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Monica Caldas from GE helped form a special day camp in 2011 for middle-school girls called GE Girls. The camp partners with local school districts to teach girls the importance of STEM with hands-on activities centering around robotics, electronics, chemistry and much more.

Erie Times-News, Pa.

Ten-year-old Gianna Collins won’t hesitate to tell you what she wants to be when she grows up.

A scientist.

The Northwestern Elementary fourth grader lit up as she talked about learning about the solar system and the Earth while she was working on a building challenge with classmate Emily DeForce, 9, during a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workshop at Penn State Behrend in mid-January.

Collins is one of a number of young girls in Erie County who have been encouraged to show interest in a STEM field.

Monica Caldas, GE Transportation’s chief information officer for global services and digital solutions, has been one of those doing the encouraging for at least the past five years across the county.

“We want them to learn about what it means to be in STEM, to keep them engaged and to reduce intimidation and show them what’s possible,” Caldas said. “It’s about giving them the support they need.”

Caldas helped form a GE day camp in 2011 for middle-school girls called GE Girls. The camp, which has been in Erie since 2012, partners with local school districts and Behrend to teach girls the importance of STEM with hands-on activities centering around robotics, electronics, materials properties, plastics, chemistry, wind energy and more topics.

The results of these types of efforts might now be revealing themselves.

According to the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, out of the 15,239 people in Erie County who hold bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, 34 percent of them are women.

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