As girls and young women head to school this fall, we need to encourage them to get involved in studies and activities relating to STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, says NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences Dean Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D. And we need to help them see it is far more exciting – and gender neutral – than may first appear.

Anid, NYIT's first female engineering dean, and Assistant Professor Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, Ph.D., are available to discuss how to help girls experience the thrill of STEM discovery and prepare themselves for a range of in-demand, technology-related careers.

"Science and engineering touch everything we do, Anid notes.

"Imagine inventing the next micro device that will cure cancer, the next artificial lens that will help the blind see, the next flying car, the next robotic phone," says Anid. "Imagine the thrill of designing colliding atoms, indestructible bridges, imperceptible chips, zero-emission cities, custom-made apps, mood-changing perfume... Science and Engineering make all of this possible." Why should girls get involved in STEM?

Research shows that girls begin to lose interest in STEM subjects early in their education, often by third grade; as a result, women are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields like IT, engineering, and cybersecurity. Currently, women make up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce. Young girls must be encouraged to pursue and remain in STEM fields as the number of careers requiring STEM knowledge expands.

“With the ‘Internet of Things’ and cyber physical systems taking off rapidly from the fast adoptions of mobile devices and more wired and wireless network coverage, the connectivity in once-inert things has shifted to be ubiquitous," says Dong. "Smart grid, smart city, smart healthcare, smart transportation, and more smart systems will be entering our everyday lives. This presents new challenges and will demand a workforce with multidisciplinary backgrounds with a strong emphasis in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This is an exciting time for students to use their imagination to be creative and invent things that solve real-world problems.”

NYIT's School of Engineering and Computing Sciences faculty is committed to building the STEM pipeline among girls in grades K-12 by bolstering their confidence, providing role models, and adding a human touch to make STEM more female-friendly. Summer camps, clubs, competitions with teams comprised of at least half girls, and mentoring are just a few ways that NYIT is recruiting girls into STEM fields.