Engineering Successful Futures

It doesn’t look like the little LEGO robot could save lives, but one day something like it just might; the device is a prototype for a robot that finds injured people in disaster zones. Two teenagers stand nearby and watch the robot they created traverse a college hallway. Taking notes, they observe and brainstorm ways to improve on their work.

Many students might not able to do anything like this in their high school classes during the year—but at the Engineering Institute at the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (GIV), they can explore what it will be like to pursue careers in engineering.

One of the teenagers is Kai Boyd, a student from Brattleboro High School and an aspiring engineer. Kai was one of 613 students to stay on UVM’s campus for GIV in Summer 2016, delving deep into their academic and creative interests with expert mentors leading the way. Of all the GIV attendees, more than half were young women, and of these 151—Kai included—pursued STEM, thanks in part to a new Institute developed to attract more young women to STEM fields.

GIV helps students explore their passions and future careers through 13 hands-on learning Institutes across Vermont covering topics that range from architecture and arts to environmental science and technology. For several years, the Vermont Women’s Fund, a component fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, has supported GIV in its efforts to help young women from low-income families attend the Institute of their choice. By removing all economic and geographic barriers to attending, GIV and the Vermont Women’s Fund hope to encourage young women from all backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM and in other fields that will help them excel in life after high school and beyond.

Exposure to the subjects and fields that inspire creativity and passion is a major first step toward future economic success for young men and women alike. Said one young woman who attended the Engineering Institute, "I was slightly hesitant [but] at GIV I found...that I indeed have a passion for using creativity to help solve problems that seem implausible.”

She went on, “...One of the most important lessons I have learned from GIV would be that it is good to be different. In engineering, if you are not willing to be an individual with different ideas, no substantial progress can ever be made... This inspired me because as a teenage girl, being true to yourself is seen as admirable, but realistically? Unattainable. GIV has taught me that being true to yourself is the most important thing and that it is so much greater to be different."

 Go Back to the Spring 2017 Newsletter