Women in Science Conference 2018

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It was a packed house at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology on Tuesday, in a big effort to get more girls involved in the sciences. A majority of area students were introduced to a variety of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Every seventh-grade girl in the Rapid City Area School District was invited to 2018 Women in Science Conference. This was a one-day workshop geared toward putting STEM careers in focus for more than 700 girls.

 Amy DiRienzo, president of Youth in Science Rapid City, Inc. recognizes a need to encourage more students to pursue a STEM career.

“The number of women in science is still extremely low,” said DiRienzo. “I’m a mechanical engineer, and 8 percent of mechanical engineers in the U.S. are women. We want to inspire girls to consider a career in science by introducing them to successful women in STEM and by showing them exciting things they can do in the industry.”

Jean Deaver, an airline pilot, mechanical engineer and alumna of SDMS&T, delivered the keynote address at the conference. She says her favorite classes at Sturgis Brown High School were math and physics. Standing proudly at the podium, she delivered a message that STEM education has endless opportunities.

“My message to the girls today was to seek goals for fulfillment,” said Deaver. “Seek a career that is challenging. And if you find yourself in a career that is not challenging – there’s still time.”

During the conference, there were a variety of networking sessions where students met with working professionals. Interactive exhibits provided a hands-on learning experience. This included everything from robotics, augmented reality, chemistry, the medical field, public service and more.

Ultimately, a valuable seed was planted in young and inquisitive minds, teaching a valuable lesson: STEM is for everyone.

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