Hands-on, high-tech education for New Hampshire girls

BAE Systems’ Women in Technology program shows how it’s done

As the pace of technological improvement speeds up, a solid education in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – is increasingly vital for students seeking bright futures. It can be a challenge to take math and science lessons learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world, so hands-on technical experience can be invaluable.

New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut

Over the years and across a variety of measures, female students tend to lag behind their male classmates entering highly-technical fields such as engineering and computer science. Fortunately, there is an innovative program right here in New Hampshire that is helping to close that gap, and give Granite State girls an opportunity for a hands-on, high-tech education.

Last May, I had the opportunity to attend the graduation of 24 young ladies from the BAE Systems Women in Technology (WiT) program. OMG! This is an innovative and intensive program offering female high school students with an aptitude for math and science a unique opportunity for practical, hands-on experience in engineering and other technical disciplines.

Across southern New Hampshire, 16 high schools have already partnered with BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems sector to give their female students at shot at this tremendous 16-week course, running from October to February. Once enrolled, students will exposed to several aspects of engineering through technical rotations in software engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, microwave engineering, signal processing, failure analysis, optical engineering and manufacturing engineering.

Students will also build communications skills as they present their projects, and attend networking events with BAE engineers. BAE encourages seniors who complete the program and have been accepted to college with a declared major in engineering to apply for summer internships at BAE Systems.

Last year, two schools gave course credit for the bright, young women who completed the WiT program, and I am encouraging all participating New Hampshire schools to at least give the students the option of course credit toward graduation. We should reward students who seek out new ways to build on their education outside the classroom.

The application deadline for this year’s WiT program is Sept. 17, so time is fleeting. I would encourage any female student with a love of math and science to learn more about this program and to consider applying. The WiT program is a tremendous opportunity for New Hampshire girls to turn their love of science into hands-on, high-tech experience. And that’s the sort of educational innovation that will lead them to bright futures.

Learn more about BAE Systems Women in Technology Program at www.BAESystems.com/wit.

Frank Edelblut is commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Categories: Education, Opinion, Technology