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Wanted: More Female Scientists, Engineers and Mathematicians 

Pittsburgh -- Robert Morris University will host the fourth annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference on Saturday, March 27, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at RMU’s Moon Township campus.

The conference is for girls in grades six through nine who are interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  This year’s conference features workshops and demonstrations by RMU faculty as well as representatives of the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Carnegie Science Center and the Girls Math & Science Partnership.

The Expanding Your Horizons conference’s goal is to nurture girl’s interest in science, math and engineering courses, encouraging them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

“We are excited to be able to provide students in the greater Pittsburgh area with such a unique opportunity. We hope that this exposure to science, technology, engineering and math will excite and inspire girls to consider careers in STEM fields.” said Ashley Jones, outreach manager for the RMU School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, which organizes the conference.

According to a recent report by the American Association of University Women, only about 38 percent of undergraduate degrees in science, technology, mathematics and engineering are awarded to women – even though women make up a majority of total undergraduate students in the United States.

“It is important for young girls to see that women can lead a successful professional life in traditionally male-dominated fields while at the same time embracing an active personal and family life,”  said Monica VanDieren, associate professor of mathematics at RMU. 

VanDieren will lead two workshops on Saturday: “Keeping Secrets,” about the mathematics behind cryptography; and “Call My Random Number,” about fractals, mathematical patterns that emerge out of randomness and make cell phone technology possible.

Other workshops include: 

  • Pittsburgh Zoo’s Wildlife Wonders: By examining some of the zoo’s animals, girls will discover how fur, feathers, scales and other adaptations make each creature unique.
  • Air Repair: Pittsburgh, Industry and the Air We Breathe: The students will learn the history of air quality in Pittsburgh, then construct a 13-foot smoke stack and watch the “pollutants” fly. 
  • Get With the Program: Participants will explore computer programming through Alice, a program developed by the late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, author of the bestselling book “The Last Lecture.” 

For a complete schedule, click here. 

The Expanding Your Horizons Conference is supported through funding provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and sponsorships from Southwestern Pennsylvania Engineering Outreach and Pennatronics.