450 middle school girls from across metro Detroit participate in Eastern Michigan University Digital Divas 2018

Program introduces young women to careers in STEM, other technology fields

Two middle-school girls work on a project together at Digital Divas.

YPSILANTI – 450 middle school girls from across metro Detroit participated in Digital Divas 2018 today (Nov. 2, 2018) hosted by Eastern Michigan University. The program featured hands-on activities in cyber safety, Google coding, drones and gaming, among many others.A middle-school student and an instructor work the controls of a drone at Digital Divas 2018.

Eastern Michigan's College of Technology (COT) hosted the event, in the strong belief that recruiting and supporting the young women the United States needs in the fast-growing technology and computer science fields requires commitment, leadership and coordinated efforts. The COT notes that such initiatives must come from educators, relevant organizations and the business community.

“It is important for girls today to realize all the college majors and careers in STEM that are available – careers that can lead to excellent pay and a rewarding professional life,” said Bia Hamed, coordinator for student services in the College of Technology. “Women from industry and from the university come together to make this day all about girls supporting girls on a platform of technology – helping each other to rise and succeed.”

Breanna Vertkin a software engineer at Duo Security, served as the opening keynote speaker, on the topic of “An invitation for young girls to see themselves in Engineering.”

Digital Divas’ mission is to provide a venue for connecting middle and high school young women and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is accomplished by:

  • Introducing young women to careers in technology.
  • Recruiting young women into technology majors in post-secondary education.
  • Breaking down gender stereotypes regarding tech careers.
  • Creating awareness of safe online interactions.
  • Encouraging ethical behaviors in texting, emailing and social media.

Schools and groups represented at the event some included Girl Scouts Troop 42076. Levey Middle School in Southfield, Saline Intermediate, Farmington Middle School, Detroit Public Safety Academy, Wagar Middle School, Beach Middle School, BW Arthurs Middle School, Tecumseh STEM East, Hartland Middle School, Hazel Park Junior High, Emerson School and others.

Businesses and organizations supporting this year’s Digital Divas included Consumers Energy, The DTE Foundation, AAUW, ITC, AT&T, Nexcess, Mercedes Benz Financial Services, Fresh Thyme and Eastern Michigan University.  

The program included breakout sessions and demonstrations, such as:

  • Be the Boss at a LED Light-up Greeting Card Studio: Students learned how LED lights and electronic circuits work, by creating their own winter-themed holiday light-up greeting card.
  • Be a Cosmetics Chemist with Green Ingredients: Students in a laboratory setting performed hands-on experiments to create a lip balm and hand cream.
  • Create your own mobile app:  Students learned how to create your own leading edge mobile phone application.
  • Drag, Drop, and Roll with Scratch and OzoBots: Students learned coding concepts with drag and drop techniques, using ozobots and Scratch.
  • Drones, Robotics & Neuroscience: An overview of some of the top emerging STEM-related sectors included hands-on use of drones, robotics and neuroscience technology, including the opportunity for participants to control each other's limbs and robotic claws via brainwaves.
  • Digital Decisions: Students choose their own digital adventure story – helping the main character, Jess, a ninth grade student, make decisions as she navigates a digitally connected social life on social media.
  • Experimental Game Lab: Design, test, and play computer games with a twist. Students enjoyed a hands-on workshop where they will turn ordinary objects like marshmallows and pool noodles into a game controller.
  • Fashionology: This hands-on workshop involved using patterns from the pattern design software (CAD) used for the fashion industry.
  • Interior Design: Students used computer software – Sketchup & Photoshop – to build 3D models of residential houses and render the images.
  • Lightning Strikes STEM: The Lightning Robotics team discussed how STEM education and teamwork is promoted through the FIRST Robotics program.
  • Made with Code led by Google: A day in the life of a Google employee and explore how coding is part of everyday life.
  • Orthotics & Prosthetics: The basics of orthotics and prosthetics, including making a mold of your finger and 3D printing.
  • Software Development is a SNAP: Female technologists from Duo Security discussed software development cycle and the roles that play into it.
  • Train to be a ZooKeeper for the GE Zoo: Students helped train animals at the GE Zoo, working in groups to train selected animals by programming it to complete a set of tasks.

For more information on this event and other related programs, please visit the Digital Divas website.

For further information, contact Bia Hamed at 734-487-8659 or email bia.hamed@emich.edu.


About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 19,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

November 02, 2018

Written by:
Sue Shine

Geoff Larcom