Our Islands, Our Future

In February, Maui intermediate schoolgirls attended Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED). Sponsored by Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™ (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) program, IGED is part of National Engineers Week, and marks MEDB’s 20th IGED anniversary. Over 70 attendees participated in activities designed to interest middle school girls in engineering career paths, which traditionally have been male-dominated.

“Our STEMworks™  project-based model is recognized nationally as an innovative, relevant, and successful approach to education,” said Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks™ Project Manager. “The mission  of STEMworks™ is to provide students and teachers with resources and tools that empower them to improve their community and the world.” This year, industry partners Hawaiian Electric and the National Solar Observatory (NSO), along with MEDB’s STEMworks™ team and teachers, connected the students to real-world learning opportunities.

Sharon Suzuki, Hawaiian Electric President of Maui County and Hawai’i Island Utilities, said, “We’re honored to be a long-standing supporter of this event that has introduced young females on Maui to the field of engineering for the past 20 years. As a partner since its inception, our Maui staff always looks forward to engaging and fostering a new generation of STEM leaders and professionals in our communities.”

Jennifer Suzuki, Maui Waena Intermediate School STEM teacher, reflected, “Opportunities with IGED provide exposure to STEM fields and often plant the seed of interest, which lead to future careers. Some of my former IGED girls are now engineers, doctors, and computer scientists. Without this early exposure, these careers may not have even been on their radars.” Agreeing, Mark Cunningham, STEMworks Iao Intermediate Teacher, said, “These types of extraordinary experiences are what mold future ideas. My students returned to class with a passion for the world, how it works, and how to solve its problems.”

Lahaina Intermediate 7th grader Naiya Eide added, “IGED inspired me to set goals to be the best I can be, and never give up. Hawaiian Electric engineers gave tours of the facility and provided hands-on science experiments. We asked the NSO engineers questions about the Sun and space-related events, and learned first-hand how hard work and setting goals pay off.”

The STEMworks™ in-school and afterschool program engages, inspires, and motivates K-12 students throughout the islands.

Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks™ Project Manager