UC Davis Today: Inspiring girls in technology

  • Three young women working in a row on computers, middle one laughing

    Girls Who Code introduces high school girls to computer programming. From left, Violet Dresseler, Zaire Johnson and Meghan Phelan work on a coding exercise.

  • Two girls on the floor with computer and a model car robot in the foreground

    Benite Rutaganira and Diana Gonzalez, both of Woodland, Calif., work on controlling a robot with a computer program.

  • Two young women focus on center girl working on a computer

    Violet, 17, left, helps Benite and Diana, both 15, troubleshoot their programming.

  • Girl picks up a model car as other girl interacts with her and older woman, sitting in the background, looks at the two

    Instructor Kristen Beck (center), a graduate student at the UC Davis Genome Center, watches Jacsica Cheung, 17, and Wenyu Ma, 14, test their programming skills.

  • Several girls sprawled on floor with two robots

    Girls Who Code, now in its second year nationally, aims to inspire young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Inspiring girls in technology

Twenty high school girls are getting a hands-on education in computer programming at UC Davis this summer through the Girls Who Code 2013 Summer Immersion Program, run in partnership with Intel Corp.

Now in its second year — and its first year at UC Davis — Girls Who Code is a national organization working to educate, equip and inspire 15-17-year-old girls with the skills and resources to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing. 

"Girls Who Code was founded because we believe that female engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators are our future. The Intel Summer Immersion Program is an important part of our movement to change the face of technology in America," said founder Reshma Saujani.

UC Davis is the first university to be a Girls Who Code program site, according to Ray Rodriguez, professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the Global HealthShare Initiative at UC Davis, who brought the program to campus. The initiative is working on a similar program in collaboration with an agricultural college in India. 

Participants in the Summer Immersion Program get eight weeks of intensive instruction and practical experience in computing concepts, programming fundamentals, mobile phone development, robotics, and web development and design.

They are also taking field trips, including a recent visit to Intel's headquarters in San Francisco and a meeting with CEO Brian Krzanich. 

The program began June 24 and will run through Aug. 16. It is funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corp. 

The UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education is also running a Girls' Leadership Camp on Computing and Robotics on campus, July 22 to 26.  Participants will learn the basics of robotics, principles of engineering and C/C++ programming, as well as go on lab visits and field trips. High school girls from the C-STEM Center's Girls for Computing and Robotics Club will act as assistant coaches and mentors throughout the week. 

Other Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs are being run in New York, San Jose, Detroit and San Francisco in partnership with AT&T, Cornell Tech, eBay, GE, Goldman Sachs, IAC, the Knight Foundation and Twitter. The Summer Immersion Program pairs classroom instruction with talks, demos and workshops led by inspiring female entrepreneurs, CEOs, developers, designers and computer science majors that serve as mentors and role models throughout the program. 

On the home page: Benite Rutaganira and Diana Gonzalez, both of Woodland, Calif., work on controlling a robot with a computer program. Karin Higgins/UC Davis photos

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