STEM in the Park and NetApp, a Fortune 500 data management company located in the Research Triangle Park, hosted its second annual Building Girls Who Code event on April 25th, 2019. Nearly 90 girls came from Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy to participate in this fun, informative and interactive day of app design and social impact, inspired by the Code Girls movie.
The girls started with a brainstorming session centered around the goal of solving issues in their community, then moved into app interface design, all with the guidance of their STEM professional group leaders. After the design session, the students alternated between speed mentoring and an encouraging speaker session. Following lunch, and with the help of over 37 volunteers, the girls participated in a highly enthusiastic poster presentation!
Fran Melia, Senior Business Analyst at NetApp, kicked off the day by getting everyone excited to reach their fullest potential! Fran showed the girls a brief clip from the film, “Code Girl”, which detailed how several young women were changing their communities using coding skills. She also provided the students information about other events they can participate in to learn more about coding!
Kelly Pfrommer, Founder & CEO of Cloud Giants Salesforce solutions & consulting, shared with the students her journey toward where she is now. Kelly told the girls that, while she loved her job at Red Hat, she really felt that she needed to make her own impact for good.
She knew Salesforce, and realized that this was her tool for the impact she wanted to have on the world. Now CEO of Cloud Giants, Kelly places emphasis on the task at hand and the efficiency of its completion, rather than the “required” amount of time that an employee must be working, keeping her values in the front of her mind every step of the way.
“What’s the meaning of life? If I could design my future what would it be? I wanted to find my value, and build a business that was more about results than punching a clock.” – Kelly Pfrommer
During the brainstorming activity, students worked in teams along with a STEM professional mentor to design an impact-based app! First, they had to decide on an issue that needed solving. They did this by thinking about problems in their own communities and talking through how to possibly fix them. Next they designed an app that could help resolve the problem, and explained it on a poster to be presented later in the day . Some problems that the girls set out to solve included homelessness, animal shelter overcrowding, and a lack of diversity in the workforce.
Speed mentoring is a constant hit for STEM in the Park events, making its usual appearance a few times a year at our STEM Fests. This was no exception at the Building Girls Who Code event, as the girls excitedly discussed their goals with each STEM professional they were paired with.
After lunch, the students were all too eager to share what they’d designed and how they were going to make an impact in their communities. We saw apps that matched customers to the piece of technology they’d need in order to solve their problem, apps that located lost pets and returned them to their homes, and even apps that provided news updates and connections for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Building Girls Who Code would not be possible without the support of all of our fantastic STEM mentors and volunteers. To volunteer as a speed mentor at future events, contact us at STEM@rtp.org, or sign up for our newsletter here.