IGNITE Design 101 Workshop with Microsoft

On Friday, October 30th, girls and non-binary students from West Valley Junior High joined Microsoft to participate in a Design 101 Workshop.

We use the products of UX every day, but not every one of us are aware what a career in this field actually entails! Design is crucial part of the engineering process. Engineering a product require a whole host of disciplines and responsibilities. Some career paths in the UX Design field that the girls learned about include: UX Writer, User Researcher, UI Artist, and Graphic Designer.

To start the event off, Ms. Khan, the IGNITE teacher from West Valley Junior High School, introduced a plethora of courses and extracurricular activities (i.e. programming and clubs such as Girls Who Code) available for girls to participate in at school. Then, Microsoft employees began the workshop!

The workshop gave the students a glimpse of what a UX designer works on from day to day. Professional designers led the workshop activity where participants were able to design their own app using UX design principles!

Students learned about two important UX Design tools:

Wireframe – Designers create black and white sketches or wireframes to show their ideas to clients and help focus the conversation on what elements on the screen, and not what they look like.

Persona – When a designer wants to create a product for a specific type of person with a specific set of needs or skills, they often create things called personas. Personas are essentially fictional people meant to represent a larger group of users, and they help us tailor our features to fit for these users.

After the workshop, students came together to hear the stories of women in STEM and have a discussion.

The panelists were:

Kristen Hanlon Pirillo – Kristen has achieved two arts degrees and a technology degree! She discovered her interest and passion for field of design while in college.

Uma Maheswari Anbazhagan – Uma discovered deeper passion for technology in school. She loves how she can create something with computers. She also encouraged young ladies to be independent in today’s modern world.

Jin Shin – Jin had a strong interest in artistic endeavors, like manga and animations. She then developed her interest in games! She pursued a degree in the United States in addition to her existing degrees, and joined the gaming industry. 

After attending this event:


of students are interested in STEM

Take STEM Class


of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field

Ask Teacher about Additional STEM Activities


of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM


of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

Today’s event inspired me because I didn’t know that the STEM field was so interactive with other people. Formerly, I had thought that you had your assignment, and sat in a cubicle to work on the coding. Now, I see that there are teams that collaborate, and I love that aspect. – 8th grade

This event inspired me because I got to hear stories from several women and their actual life experiences. I liked hearing about classes I can take that could benefit me in the future, and hearing about different STEM career options. I really liked the design aspect since I love all things design, so it definitely resonated with me. – 8th grade

It inspired me because I felt like everyone here was very passionate about what they do at their job and told us their experiences . And I feel like technology has some defaults but there are people in the STEM field that use it for inspiring people which inspired me because I like helping people and want to make a change in someone’s day or life. – 8th grade

It was really cool to see the different types of jobs that can go under STEM. I had totally forgotten that designing games was even part of STEM! I really enjoyed hearing from the panelists and realizing that STEM jobs can be really fun and that they don’t have to be so serious all the time. – 8th grade

It has inspired me to follow my dreams. I was not really into computers till today you have opened my eyes to more jobs that I will enjoy and I loved meeting you all. – 7th grade

I would like to say to Miss Ria that she was an excellent breakout room leader! Thank you to all the leaders of today’s session, and you were all inspiring role models. – 8th grade

I would like to say thank you for sharing your personal experiences and for inspiring me to take more STEM related classes and to look into STEM careers. I always love hearing stories from women in technology because it reminds me to ignore the stereotypes and pursue what interests me! – 8th grade