On December 7, 2023 Quincy High School and Quincy Middle School hosted IGNITE’s first at-school In-Person Panel in Central Washington! The event featured a stellar lineup of industry professionals–Rayan Russell, Program Manager at PA&E; Caitlin Hernandez-Brito, Control Systems Engineer at Grant PUD; Amanda Hall, Software Test Engineer at Grant PUD; and Megan Clausen, Civil Designer at Ethos Civil.
The day kicked off with the panel discussion where the professionals shared anecdotes, challenges, and the joys of their STEM careers. The students absorbed the journeys of each Panelist as they explained the possibilities available in STEM.
The Panelists shared relatable advice. From emphasizing resilience and the importance of a great college experience to encouraging internships and job shadowing, they helped dismantle myths and stereotypes about STEM careers. They stressed the diversity of pathways into STEM, assuring students that making mistakes is an important part of lifelong learning!
The students showed their curiosity during the Q&A session, asking a wide variety of questions. From daily routines to industry challenges, the Panelists fielded inquiries about first jobs, soft skills, and future career steps.
After the Panel, students engaged in an Hour of Code activity focused on Machine Learning. Starting with Teachable Machine, they witnessed the magic of machine learning models and then transitioned to mBlock, where they created another model but took it a step further by using code for an application of their model, causing the little sprite on the screen to react as their program recognized the items they included in their model. The Panelists were invited to stay for the activity and enjoyed spending some extra time with the students!
The event offered the IGNITE Students a glimpse into the many possibilities of STEM! The Panelists’ personal stories, examples, and advice helped the students see themselves in STEM roles, and the activity provided some fun, hands-on experience with STEM applications.
Thank you to Rayan Russell, Caitlin Hernandez-Brito, Amanda Hall, and Megan Clausen for sharing your stories and expertise with IGNITE Students. Additional thanks to IGNITE Educator Ross Kondo for being such a welcoming and enthusiastic host!
After attending this event:
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“This event showed me that women have more opportunities in STEM and can do what they want.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“The panelists’ stories gave me motivation.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event inspired me to be open to new things. It also inspired me to make sure I know what I want to do later on in my life. There are a lot of opportunities in STEM, and we should take advantage of all of them. It showed me I can be ready to face a lot of difficulties.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“One of the panelists said that she changed her major 8-10 times. This inspired me because it only shows that you can still be successful even if you are not sure of what career you want to pursue. I learned that scholarships are very crucial to help pay for college. STEM is evolving all the time, and jobs in this career are in high demand. Today showed me that getting more women in STEM can change the low representation they currently have in STEM.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“The things that I learned about were the use of different technology in our daily lives and I got to see and experiment with different apps that can used for a better purpose. I am thankful for the volunteers who shared their experiences and showed us what it’s like to work in those fields, as well as being able to learn about the aspects of different careers in the tech programs.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event was insightful in the diversity of the fields available in STEM. It was nice to see women who have already succeeded in showing that it is possible and that there is a place in STEM for me. There are many jobs that I could have in the future and be very successful. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us!” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“I learned that women have more opportunities now and can do what they want in STEM.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event helped me understand how long sometimes it takes to get or achieve something and that it’s okay. I need to take slow steps and be patient with my pathway. The volunteers were really nice. I think they were really specific with the questions and that I should improve those skills that I need because it’s important.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event inspired me to look at different career paths in engineering. It was super interesting and intrigued me. It made me see that STEM needs more women and there are a lot of job openings in careers in STEM, so it’s helpful to pursue and to get a high education.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today inspired me to work hard.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event helped me see more options, and now I want to explore more in the STEM industries. We need more women in the tech industry.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event inspired me by helping me understand more about the STEM industry. It also helped me know how to pursue a career. A big takeaway was that you can get a paid internship.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event gave me advice on the type of people supervisors choose and what the different professions in STEAM are, and I now know how to code.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
About IGNITE Program Panel Events:
Virtual or In-Person IGNITE Panels empower women in STEM careers to connect directly with students by sharing their academic and professional journeys. IGNITE Students are inspired by hearing stories they can relate to, and Q&A discussions help break down stereotypes that hold them back from engaging in STEM classes and careers.
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.