On October 5, 2023, an IGNITE Field Trip brought together students from Skyline High School and Oakland Unity High School. The event, hosted at Google’s Tasman Campus in San Jose, California, aimed to provide students with an opportunity to learn about careers in automotive engineering and hear from women working in the field. The event featured a panel discussion, hands-on demonstrations of Android Automotive technology, and group activities.
The day began with an informative session on Google’s Automotive division, including a visit to the garage where students could see three cars equipped with Google screens. Students were not only given a chance to experience Android Automotive technology up close, but they also had the opportunity to engage with engineers, asking questions and gaining valuable insights into the industry.
Following the technology demonstrations, students participated in a small group activity. They brainstormed and designed their own innovative features for cars. This creative exercise allowed them to think critically about the future of automotive technology and problem-solving. The students later presented their ideas to the group, encouraging collaborative thinking and enhancing their public speaking skills.
The event’s highlight was the panel discussion, which featured three accomplished women from Google’s automotive division: Rati Agarwal, Pranjali Kalsekar, and Sandra Alfaro Lopez. The students asked thought-provoking questions about the skills required for their jobs, their educational paths in high school and college, and their experiences as women in a male-dominated industry.
The Panelists provided invaluable advice, emphasizing the importance of taking risks, active participation in extracurricular activities, and the courage to speak up and ask questions. They shared their personal stories and addressed challenges they had overcome in their careers, inspiring the students to persevere and pursue their dreams in the world of automotive engineering.
In the interactive Q&A session, students inquired about job interview preparation, experiences of workplace sexism, and how to choose a specific engineering field. The Panelists encouraged students not to fear failure and to be open to exploring different career paths. They stressed that self-discovery and learning from experiences are key to finding one’s true passion and excelling in any profession.
Overall, the event provided a unique and informative experience for the students, showcasing the exciting possibilities in the automotive industry and offering inspiration and guidance for their future careers. The event shed light on gender barriers and empowered students to overcome obstacles in pursuing engineering and technology-related careers.
Thank you to the volunteers, Andy Pantoja Valerio, Swapnil Patel, Arzu Ozdogan, Marija Skeparoski, Mounika Nekkalapudi, Rati Agarwal, Pranjali Kalsekar, Sandra Alfaro Lopez, and Surbhi Kadam. Your dedication and passion were invaluable in making the event a success, inspiring the students, and creating a memorable experience.
After attending this event:
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“I learned about how cars are part of STEM. This helped me understand that STEM is a lot bigger than I thought. It made me see that STEM is for everyone, and there are a lot of opportunities in it” – 11th grade
“It was great to see so many women excelling in a male-dominated field. STEM is for everyone, and I want to thank the volunteers.” – 11th grade
“This event inspired me to feel more confident in pursuing different engineering careers and changed my mindset about what education means to me. There are many options in engineering careers, and there are different paths that everyone takes to find out what they enjoy.” – 11th grade
“I learned a lot more about cars, which I didn’t even think were a part of STEM. This inspired me because now I know that STEM is not limited to what I think it is, and it includes many more opportunities.” – 11th grade
“It was inspiring that mainly women were telling us about STEM. Something I’m taking away from this is that if someone doesn’t want to hear you, make yourself be heard.” – 11th grade
“Today’s event inspired me to be more comfortable in pursuing a male-dominated career. Being in STEM is something really interesting to do. Two takeaways from today were that switching careers or majors shouldn’t be a scary thing to do and that it’s okay not to be sure about what you want to do.” – 11th grade
“This event was very nice because I listened to a panel of women engineers talking about what made them want to have an occupation in STEM. I learned that you should keep trying different things to see what you like. I’ve learned that you should learn things in a variety of areas. The panelists and other people were really nice, willing to teach us about what they are doing, and they showed us the tablets attached to the vehicles. Thank you so much for showing us some of the areas in your occupation.” – 11th grade
“Today’s event was mind-opening. I came in not knowing anything and left with a better understanding of STEM.” – 12th grade
“Today’s event has inspired me to pursue what I think is best for me. Today I learned that it is okay to switch your major or change your mind.” – 12th grade
“This event inspired me to be more confident, and I want to learn more about STEM. I learned that you can use different knowledge to your advantage.” – 11th grade
“Today inspired me to try different things, to notice new things, and to ask what to expect in workspaces I am interested in. Overall it was a good experience, and I would love to hear more of the women’s perspectives in these fields.” – 11th grade
“I learned more about software and how it works. It inspired me to keep trying for what I want and learning more about programming.” – 11th grade
“The women inspired me with their careers, and I loved hearing about the panelists’ experiences.” – 12th grade
“This event inspired me not to care what people think about me, to be who I am, and to follow my dreams. I also loved the cars!” – 10th grade
“Today inspired me to do much more and to explore and try new things. Even though there aren’t as many women in STEM, we can all do the same role.” – 11th grade
“This event was pretty cool! I liked the cars.” – 11th grade
“This event inspired me to think more about my future in STEM through interaction with adults in STEM fields. STEM careers are super diverse and variable, and careers are not fixed in place. I also learned about current Android technology.” – 11th grade
“This experience helped me dwell in the hope that I could embrace. It helped me not be afraid to stand up for myself.” – 12th grade
“Seeing many women of color in STEM really inspired me, and I feel like I can now do it. No matter how hard the process is, you just have to keep going.” – 12th grade
Google LLC is an American multinational technology company focusing on search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.
About IGNITE Program Field Trip Events:
IGNITE Field Trips offer a memorable, behind-the-scenes look at STEM in action and the wide range of career opportunities at the host company. Company employees interact directly with the students through an office tour, hands-on STEM activities, and IGNITE Panel and Q&A discussion.
About IGNITE Worldwide:
IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at www.igniteworldwide.org.