The nomination window is now open for seventh-grade girls who are passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects to take part in this summer’s Tech Trek camp, a program hosted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The one-week residential camp will be held June 16-22 on the New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro, New Mexico.
To participate, students must receive a nomination from a STEM teacher. Nominations are submitted online through the Tech Trek website and are due by January 26, 2024. Nominees will also need to complete an essay and be interviewed by two AAUW members. The program accepts up to 60 girls, so space is limited.
AAUW established Tech Trek to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM.
AAUW was founded in 1881 by Marion Talbot, Dean of the College of Women at the University of Chicago, and Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to earn a degree in chemistry and a leader in home economics.
They started AAUW to address the barriers to women who wish to pursue higher education and a career with equal pay and rights. Today, AAUW is a leading nonprofit advocacy organization supporting equal opportunities for women in education and beyond.
Cheri Burch, co-director of the camp, had a career in physics, computer science, and education.
“The greatest joy that comes from Tech Trek for a teacher like me is seeing so many girls gaining confidence that they can be successful in STEM activities. I love it,” Burch says. “At the end of Tech Trek, it’s rewarding hearing from the campers about all the new-to-them STEM careers that they become interested in thanks to camp.”
How to attend Tech Trek
Tech Trek is held in Socorro, in the heart of New Mexico.
After being nominated by a science or math teacher, the applicant also writes an essay and then is interviewed by two AAUW members who live close to the applicant.
“We only have room for 60 girls each year,” said Burch, “so we try our best to include girls that are going to enjoy being there and get something out of it.”
What Happens at Tech Trek
The girls attending camp stay in college dormitories at New Mexico Tech and “they are kept busy all week,” Burch says.
Each girl chooses a core class to attend while at Tech Trek. The courses cover a wide area of STEM, and are different every year. Example offerings include robotics, computer science, motorized toy design, and cybersecurity.
In addition to classes, hands-on workshops are led by professional women so the young ladies in attendance can meet women in the careers they might be interested in.
There are also planned activities. One night the campers might hear a talk from a professional woman about her career, and another night features a “Math Gala” of fun mathematical challenges and games. Campers will also compete in a fun geocache challenge.
The results speak for themselves
“Tech Trek came to New Mexico in 2014, and we feel it’s been a great success. Young women who attended back then are now at the age where they are graduating from colleges and universities, and we could not be prouder of them all,” says Burch.
Once girls attend Tech Trek, they are part of a community of alumnae who are invited to participate in an annual event in Albuquerque.
“Not only are the campers learning about opportunities for their futures, they are also learning confidence, skills, and the application process teaches them to act professionally for their futures seeking careers as well,” Burch says.
Donors and members make it happen
“AAUW is a nonprofit, and our donors make it happen,” Burch said. “We are honored by the support of large corporations we’ve had and were excited to have Pattern Energy join our donors in supporting us.”
Pattern Energy is honored to sponsor the 2024 Tech Trek experience for New Mexican girls.
Burch is optimistic about AAUW’s future, and says, “We would love it if some of our camp attendees went on to pursue higher education and then run into other Tech Trek alumane on campus!”
Applications for Tech Trek 2024 are due January 26. Nominate your students here