Lack of exposure and not knowing what’s available are the main barriers between students of color and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, said Jamani King, outreach coordinator and manager of the Stimulating STEM program launched this summer by King, the Institute of Information sciences at USC and Amazon.
“Sometimes I notice [in my outreach efforts] that students of color do not see all career opportunities. They see what’s on TV, you know … doctors, lawyers or ‘I want to be a dancer’ or ‘I want to do hair,’” King said during a recent interview with Sentinel for the four-week summer program that began in June.
The program was launched within ISI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division. His goal was to inspire underrepresented and underserved students and expose them to the diversity of opportunities in STEM. Like a sort of summer camp, the participants stayed
USC campus during the four weeks as they traveled to ISI in Marina Del Rey, where they learned about things like robotics, AI computer science, cybersecurity and aerospace engineering.
In addition, they attended one-day workshops taught by senior researchers at ISI, participated in tours of USC Viterbi research laboratories, and attended workshops to learn about the work and research of USC Viterbi scientists and engineers. The program also includes leadership, team building, wellness and social activities.
There was no cost to the 15 students who participated in the program, thanks to a grant provided by Amazon.
Underrepresentation in STEM affects several groups across the country, including women, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Besides the lack of exposure, there’s also the factor of knowing how to maneuver in these spaces, King explained. Poor communication and uncertainty can have a big impact.
“[For example]King said. “Sometimes as black people we’re quick to say, ‘Oh, it’s because we’re black so they’re acting funny,’ but honestly, when it comes to people who work in STEM, they’re a little socially awkward and don’t it’s engaging, and if you haven’t worked in the field long enough, you can take it personally.
“So [part of it is] they have to learn the industry and the ways of people like engineers (for example) who have their head buried in a book trying to solve a problem, they have no social skills. So knowing how not to take it personally is also important,” she said.
King said she is confident the program’s organizers succeeded in their mission during the four-week period, but they will collect future data to more accurately measure its success. They also gave participants evaluations at the beginning and end of the program.
“Several of our students received internship offers through our Space Engineering Research Center, and we also had internship offers for kids interested in cybersecurity,” King said.
“So we definitely did what we set out to do.”
To be eligible for Stimulating STEM, students must have a satisfactory GPA, attend school in one of the program’s target areas, and have a letter of recommendation.
“Sometimes youth have to experience different things,” King said, “because even my staff would say how they wish they had been exposed to programs like this when they were in school.”
Fostering STEM adds to USC Viterbi’s 25-year history of providing STEM-based youth summer programs to historically underrepresented elementary, middle and high school students, according to USC officials. In addition to regularly offering summer programs, the Viterbi K-12 STEM Center also hosts [email protected] summer programs.
Jamani King, Stimulating STEM program manager (Stimulating STEM) – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Jamani King, Stimulating STEM program manager (Stimulating STEM) – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel