MESA Girls Take Action in the Mobile App White House Challenge

Whether it be in the engineering and science field or not, I encourage all young ladies to explore different opportunities and professions.
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I am a new member of Temple's University Mathematical Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program. Since I have joined, I have become very passionate about engineering. Never once before did I see myself involved in the engineering field, but MESA has helped me to consider a different career. My friend introduced me into the program and because of my lack of knowledge in the science and engineering field, I assumed I wouldn't be interested in it, but the exact opposite happened. In the beginning, I wanted to major in business and marketing, simply because I wasn't sure about what I wanted to do except start my own business. Being a part of MESA has made me consider majoring in science and engineering instead and want to develop mobile applications. My experience at MESA has been interesting since day one. On my first day, a group of entrepreneurs came in to talk to the students about what it means to have your own business and the variety of professions that are categorized under science and engineering. Each entrepreneur was assigned to a group where they presented a problem about their mobile app. Each team was expected to thoroughly analyze the problem and provide a solution on how to improve the app as well as make it user friendly. Each team was critiqued on their ability to solve the problem, how well they presented their presentation and if they were able to think beyond the problem and create other ideas that could help the app prosper.

On January 5, 2013, Dr. Jamie Bracey--Director of STEM education, Outreach and Research and Founding Director of Pennsylvania MESA--helped organize an event for the White House Equal Futures App Challenge hosted at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The objective of the challenge was to get more young ladies involved in community problem solving, leadership and politics. If I wasn't aware of how interesting science and engineering could be, just imagine how many other young ladies out there would love to know about such a profession, especially those who aren't quite sure about what they want to do.

Before we left to begin the challenge, Dr. Bracey gave us a lesson. She spoke on the importance of how vital women are in our community. She dated all the way back to ancient Egypt where women were queens and had power over civilizations. Dr. Bracey also had us do research on other powerful women such as Fannie Lou Hammer, Ella Baker, Shirley Chisholmn and Carol Mosley Brown. Doing this exercise really challenged and encouraged us to come up with ideas for the app. It was proof of how much of an impact women have in society.

When we were escorted to the auditorium, we had a video chat conference call with White House representatives and other students involved in the competition from Los Angles and Boston. They explained to us the importance of this app challenge and the importance of women in technology. After the call was over we were split into groups. Iyasu Watts, an apprentice in java programming helped us organize our ideas. The group competition we had within our own MESA team on my first day definitely prepared me and gave our group experience for the White House challenge. We came up with an accessible mobile app that would make it convenient for young ladies to become more aware of relevant issues in their life, which public officials are addressing. It included ways in which public officials could offer opportunities regarding their issues such as financial help with education and finding jobs. After creating a proposal for how the app would function, we designed a layout of what the app would look like. When all groups were finished with their designs, we met in the auditorium to present our ideas to the White House representatives and the other students competing.

Not only has MESA helped me to reconsider which career path I would like to follow, but it has also offered scholarship opportunities. Dr. Bracey told all of us to apply for the Science Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) scholarship. SEAP provides an opportunity for students to participate in research at a Department of Navy Laboratory during the summer. The ultimate goal of SEAP is to encourage students to pursue careers in the science and engineering field. Overall, I would surely recommend anybody to join MESA, especially girls. It opened my eyes up to a new world that I find extremely interesting. In the little time I've been there, it has taught me how to improve my writing skills, how mobile apps work, how to address a problem and create a solution, the importance of group work, how to think outside of the box and most importantly, why women are a vital component in how the world goes around. Whether it be in the engineering and science field or not, I encourage all young ladies to explore different opportunities and professions. Women have outstanding talent and the strength of those who fought before us to do anything.

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