Our Islands, Our Future

Each February, Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™ program offers the popular Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED), also called Girl Day. Held in conjunction with National Engineering Week, this year’s STEMworks event had 155 middle-school girls registered from around the state. Nationwide, throughout the week, organizations, partners, industry professionals, mentors, and teachers showed girls how to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. The theme, to increase interest in engineering subjects, promote amazing engineering feats by women in our society, and encourage students to consider engineering careers, is vital for our future generation of women.

“Girl Day is our most favorite day of the year at MEDB because we get to see the future of STEM as the girls work on their creative innovations,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “IGED inspires them to think about solving problems to make our community a better place.”

STEMworks Director of Education and Workforce Development Katie Taladay added, “IGED is important to make sure girls feel supported as they explore different engineering areas and see how engineers change the world. We presented a 30-minute, industry-led lightning talk and Q&A session with six women engineers specializing in aerospace, agricultural, biochemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering to expose girls to the wide variety of careers in engineering.”

A STEMworks teacher at Kihei Charter School (KCS) noted, “Everyone had a wonderful time and ran into challenges that they were able to overcome with pride. They all left the event with huge smiles.” A KCS middle-school agricultural session participant reflected, “IGED was so interesting! We engineered a drip-irrigation system and explored the science of irrigation and the different ways that farmers put water to work, from flood-irrigation to spray-irrigation to computer-controlled farming.”

Taladay concluded, “It is important to provide and develop future leaders through community-based programs such as STEMworks that empower students to solve unpredictable, real-world problems. Designed to address planning for Hawaii’s future, IGED engages young women in events that add to their skill set and inspires them to choose a career in STEM.”

STEMworks provides role models from diverse engineering fields to encourage girls to learn engineering skills that exhibit the wide range of career paths they can choose from.

Katie Taladay, MEDB Director of Education and Workforce Development, STEMworks