Grant Aims to Inspire Future Innovators
With the assistance of a $24,000 grant from the Motorola
Foundation, talented high school girls from around the country
will be awarded scholarships to participate in the 2008 Smith
College Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP).
The Motorola Foundation,
a philanthropic division of the global hi-tech corporation,
has given a total of $3.5 million through the Innovation
Generation Grant program to support initiatives that aim
to build interest in technology-related careers. The grant
program was initiated last year with the aim of increasing
the percentage of women from underrepresented populations
in the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Motorola’s
grant award to Smith will provide six full scholarships
for high school students of color from economically disadvantaged
backgrounds to attend the 2008 SSEP.
Now in its 19th year,
the SSEP has hosted nearly 1,400 high school students from
44 states and 50 other countries in its annual program.
More than 39 percent of the program’s
participants have been students of color, and more than 50
percent have received financial aid.
Each July over the course of the month-long program, approximately
100 high school student participants work with the Smith
science and engineering faculty for a minimum of 120 hours
in hands-on research courses designed to expose them to cutting-edge
technologies while providing insights into the daily life
and work of scientists and engineers. For example, in a course
entitled Your Genes, Your Chromosomes, students isolate and
determine the sequences of their own mitochondrial DNA along
with determining their own DNA fingerprints, and in Designing
Intelligent Robots, students learn about the fundamentals
of robotics and the engineering design process, and then
devise a robot that performs a function that they choose.
“Educating a more diverse pool of scientists and engineers
is critical to addressing some of society’s greatest
needs and challenges, said Gail Scordilis, director of educational
outreach, who launched and oversees the SSEP. “This
grant will play a crucial role in making the SSEP accessible
to talented girls whose families otherwise could not afford
such an opportunity.
According to 2005 statistics from the U.S. Department of
Labor, women comprise just 14 percent of the engineering
and architectural workforce and only 27 percent of the workforce
in computers and mathematics. Minority groups are similarly
support, Smith hopes to further inspire talented young
women such as those attending the SSEP with a spirit of
discovery and invention that will drive the future of innovation.
The SSEP is one of
a series of outreach programs and community partnerships
supported by the Smith College Office of Educational
Outreach. Please visit www.smith.edu/outreach,
to learn more.