GE Hitachi hosted its 10th annual Girls in Technology Summit on March 16th at the University of North Carolina Wilmington to promote opportunities for women in engineering, science, and business. More than 30 female technologists and engineers attended the event, and served as coaches and mentors for over 130 local middle school girls, who took part in the day of engineering and technology challenges. This was the biggest event in its history. GE Hitachi has hosted this event each year around the March time frame for the last 10 years. In the first 8 years the focus was more around typical STEM projects such as making a roller- coaster, however, the last two years, the focus has shifted more on digital technology and the “Internet of Things” (IOT).

This year, the project was centered around digital technology and the “Internet of Things”. Students developed an IOT device similar to the “RING” doorbell. Middle school girls used a micro-computer device called a “Raspberry Pi” (RPi), to take and send pictures and messages to their smart phone. Step by step, they built their own IOT device. The RPi is a computer that has no screen, no keyboard, and no mouse. First, they learned how to setup and configure a Raspberry Pi device by getting it connected. Girls learned how an IOT device communicates by connecting a Console Cable to RPi to see the output from commands that they typed. Second, they assembled the smart doorbell by wiring the doorbell using the Breadboards and creating a new electrical circuit. Then they connected the camera to the RPi. Finally, they setup IOT topic for sending text messages. They used the Python programming language to communicate with the RPi. After completing the assembly of RPi device, they started testing their product. They modified their text messages and re-tested their product. They also made a poster to describe their RING doorbell automation product and presented it to the audience as a group. All projects were evaluated by judges at the end of the event and the first three teams got prizes.

All the girls who participated in this STEM event had the opportunity to test RPi and send a message to see how the device that they built is working. This was a great opportunity for a middle school student to get an introduction to Internet of Things, digital technology and coding. They all loved it and enjoyed it. It was a fun event for both the students and volunteers.

While girls were learning and enjoying in STEM event at UNCW, their teachers were also in a STEM workshop offered by UNCW. It was great STEM day for both students and the teachers!”