AREVA Builds Girl Power with STEM Activities

They didn’t play with dolls or host tea parties. There was no dressing up. Instead, they developed apps, built towers, and prepared for takeoff.

To increase school-age girls’ awareness of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) this summer, AREVA employees in Charlotte, N.C., took on two special projects, impacting more than 55 girls in the Charlotte area.

According to 2014 figures from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, women remain significantly underrepresented in science and engineering occupations.

“The U.S. Department of Education predicts the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs will increase by 14 percent by 2020,” said Fariba Gartland, AREVA Inc. Vice President of Plant Engineering and President of the AREVA Charlotte Chapter of Women in Nuclear (WIN). “It is critical to both AREVA and the nuclear industry to build a pipeline of engineering talent to fill these needs, starting with increasing the number of opportunities girls have to learn more about STEM careers.”

Project #1: Project Scientist Academy iCode Week

AREVA provided a $10,000 sponsorship for 26 economically-disadvantaged girls from 11 local schools to participate free-of-charge in the Project Scientist Academy iCode Week at UNC Charlotte’s main campus.

As the sponsor of iCode Week, AREVA kicked off the program by providing a STEM Super Star to speak with the 35 girls in the program. Tejiri Bolano, an engineer in AREVA’s Cyber Security department, shared her career journey and talked to the girls about cyber security in the nuclear industry.

Tejiri Bolano, an AREVA cyber security engineer, enjoyed speaking with the girls about her career path and nuclear energy.

Tejiri Bolano, an AREVA cyber security engineer, enjoyed speaking with the girls about her career path and nuclear energy.

“Cyber security is a growing business in many industries, including the nuclear industry,” said Bolano. “It is important to show girls opportunities that combine engineering and computer science to make the world safer and more secure.”

Throughout the week, the girls, ages 4-15, completed hands-on activities, including coding exercises to create games and animate objects. At the end of the week, AREVA representatives attended the closing ceremony to hear what the girls had learned through a declaration exercise and slam poetry session.

Project #2: Bring Your Girls to Work Day, hosted by the AREVA Charlotte Chapter of Women in Nuclear (WIN).

For Bring Your Girls to Work Day, the Women In Nuclear (WIN) organization invited AREVA employees to bring their daughters, nieces, granddaughters, or family friends to AREVA for a day of STEM fun.

Girls explored structural engineering concepts during the tower-building challenge.

Girls explored structural engineering concepts during the tower-building challenge.

The program included a special discussion with Tara Neider, Senior Vice President of AREVA’s Back End Business Development, an exercise in potential and kinetic energy with balloon races and hand-made helicopters led by the AREVA NAYGN members, a group project in which the girls gave presentations about significant women in science, a spaghetti-and-marshmallow tower competition, a tour of AREVA’s Non-Destructive Examination Lab, a nuclear dance party, and a chat with WIN officers about their career paths.

“It’s just as important to help the girls in our families learn more about STEM opportunities and nuclear energy as it is to share with others in our local communities,” said Aimee Abernathy, WIN Outreach Chair. “Bring Your Girls to Work Day lets us share our passion for our STEM careers with the girls in our lives.”

In addition to sponsoring and hosting these special STEM activities for girls, AREVA Inc. also sponsored and participated as a host company for STEMersion 2015, a professional development program for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools middle school and high school STEM subject teachers.