FSU’s College of Communications and Information (CCI) hosted its first Girls’ Technology Camp from Jun. 17-21 as part of their community outreach efforts. Taking place in the William Johnston Building, 42 middle school girls from Leon County utilized a computer lab to learn about the world of information technology, compliments of CCI.
The camp taught about different aspects of technology and program design, from hardware usage to software creation. The informative first lessons set the scene for hands-on, interactive learning for the rest of the week. The introductory workshop focused on hardware and media, providing attendees with a basic understanding of photo and sound manipulation as well as experience with several tablet computers.
Over five days, the students learned basic coding, HTML, game design, web design, security and privacy. By the camp’s end, attendees triumphantly walked out with their very own websites and even custom-made video games.
The camp sessions were led by a wide variety of FSU people:
- Lynnsey Weissenberger, FSU SLIS Ph.D. student and SLIS webmaster
- Lucas Heacock, FSU SLIS IT student
- Mr. Geoffrey Miller, Assistant Director, FSU PIC program
- Michael Helfrich, FSU SLIS IT student
- Jon Gluesenkamp, FSU SLIS IT student
- Kara James, FSU SLIS IT alum
- Thomas Smith, FSU SLIS IT alum
Upper-division undergraduate CCI students facilitated the classes during the week acting as pod leaders for each group of four students. Their efforts were overseen by CCI’s Associate Dean, Ebe Randeree, in partnership with Women in Information Technology Sharing Experiences (WISE) president, Nancy Moyers. Both have been very involved in working with the community through organizations such as WISE and CCI’s Students & Technology in Academia, Research, & Service (STARS) Alliance. The main goal of STARS is to increase interest among women and minorities in STEM-related majors and opportunities and to help level out the pre-dominantly male IT field. “Getting people interested early in their lives is ideal,” mentioned Moyers. “It helps to build lifelong passions, which is an important factor of success.”
Another important aspect of the camp is that it provided students with the opportunity to learn from prominent successful women involved with technology. From backgrounds as diverse as CEOs of successful IT start-ups to cyber-security analysts, the speakers had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. They all had a common piece of advice for future students: as Chief Information Systems Officer Sabrina Hoffman mentioned: “The best way to be successful is to gain plenty of experience. Take advantage of opportunities like this camp whenever you can.”
Randeree remarked, “The middle school female students were very happy that we included successful business leaders and college female leaders as showcases of success for them to meet. They provided a glimpse of what they could achieve and supported the efforts of CCI to include more young women in technology careers.” The full list of guest speakers who shared stories with the camp included:
- Leanne Adkins, Director, Project Management Office, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital
- Kira Derryberry, CEO, Kira Derryberry Photography
- Amy Fox, FSU ITS
- Sabrina Holloman, Chief Information Systems Officer, City of Tallahassee
- Nadia Kamal, CEO, ONYX
- Sunshine Lewis, Web Specialist, Florida Department of State
- Mia Lustria, Associate Professor, FSU CCI
- Mary McLaughlin, Cybersecurity Analyst, Florida Fusion Center, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Mindy Waters, Practice Manager, Tribridge
The Girls’ Technology Camp is one of many previous endeavors by the College to reach out to the community. “CCI is holding more technology camps and workshops to encourage females and young people to become interested in STEM,” said Randeree. STARS has held numerous camps, visited local Leon County schools, and frequently partners with STEM clubs and STEM k-12 teachers to hold technology camps/training.
Three full-day Saturday workshops have also been held this Spring, including two on gaming design (Mar. 30 and Jun. 8), as well as another on Apr.13 about programming and coding. Plans are being drafted for an advanced game design camp, a second coding camp, and two camps on robotics.