Sparking a STEM Career During Spring Break: YTF’s 3D Printing Academy for Girls

Most girls in the U.S. report an interest in STEM fields, but only 24 percent of women currently in the workforce have a STEM job. Women are even less represented in engineering– only 15 percent of that field is female.

To help close that gap, we commit to empowering girls from an early age to continue developing their interests in STEM careers. We found one model to help take that interest and turn it into a tangible career path – 3D printing.

Earlier this month we opened the doors to our second 3D Printing Academy for Girls spring break camp at our U.S. headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky led by an all-female YTF staff.

CCA_5142

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our group of young engineers jumping for joy after showing off their experience to their close ones on family day.

Girls from the area, ages 11-14, were equipped with laptops that included TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 software, prepped to design and print objects on a Cubify or MakerBot 3D printer. Inspiration and training filled the curriculum, from documentaries on inventors to live product demos, with the promise of 3D printed jewelry by the end of the week.

Empowering STEMinist Messages

Technology companies and organizations filled each day with creative activities and speakers to educate and empower our participants.

Our speakers this year included:

  • Angelique Johnson, a University of Louisville assistant professor, shared her career path and her work in hearing aid device development.
  • Mary Beckman, community manager from FirstBuild, spoke about being an engineer. She partnered with Sarah Morris, a University of Louisville student in the Digital Manufacturing and Design Program.
  • Mary Fugier from McNeel’s Technical Support and Training division taught how to use the Rhinocerous 3D modeling software.
  • Jennifer Lea, lead electronics design engineer at GE Appliances, a Haier Company, demonstrating electrical engineering.
  • Erica Nwankwo, design education evangelist from Autodesk, demoed special 3D printing design features in Fusion 360.
  • Sydney Dahl, NPI project manager at MakerBot, shared her career path and explained her role in creating MakerBot printers.

These powerful women painted an image for our girls of what their future could look like as female engineers. 

DrJohnson_iphone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Angelique Johnson starting off the week of empowering messages from female engineers with an encouraging speech to all the young girls at the camp.

The first speaker of the week, Angelique Johnson, showed admiration for the group’s willingness to attend camps such as this one and supported their passion to pursue STEM-related fields. 

“I want to stay in management to help other women in tech like myself reach their goals,” said Dahl.

Following closely after, Mary Fugier presented a Rhino Tutorial and showed the students how to 3D design a lemon squeezer.

Tools of the Trade

The girls were introduced to 3D printing at the beginning of and reviewed throughout the week through videos on the printing process and materials to help support the training.

CCA_0509

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our teacher Lily working one-on-one with student Chloe.

Other core learning activities included:

  • A computer aided design (CAD) tool used to create models for 3D printing, called TinkerCAD, was introduced to begin making 3D objects. 
  • Another CAD tool, Rhino, where students typed in commands to create a collage of simple objects.
  • The OzoBlockly robot programming platform, with which students
  • Web programming introductions using Komodo IDE, FileZilla, and GoDaddy. 
  • Basic sketching and how to manipulate a special digital design surface called T-splines using Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD program. 
  • Two fun class projects with TinkerCAD: making coins and creating a “diamond” ring.

3D Printing as a Platform for Learning and Exploration

The girls were eager to learn, ask questions, readily participate in hands-on activities, and actively problem-solving. 3D printing is a unique activity, working equally well for group projects and individual work.

One girl, Pragya, expressed many of her ideas freely to the group and became an outstanding team manager during a game-building exercise. Another student, KeAris, enjoyed making 3D designs such as her own name and even printed a design with the name of her nana, Norma. The flexibility allowed students with a range of learning styles to stay involved in their work and flex their creativity.  

CCA_5204

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right, Jazmine, Kaema , and KeAris taking notes during a lesson.

The week-long academy concluded with a final review and a proud show-and-tell demonstration for Family Day.

We at YTF want to absolutely highlight our partners like:  University of Louisville, Society of Women Engineers, Best Buy, PPG Foundation, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, GE Haier and our technology partners including 3D Systems, McNeel & Associates, MakerBot, Lexmark and Autodesk.

Now, we’re excited to announce the next 3D Printing Academy is open to serve more girls in Louisville this June. Stay tuned for more information and future events on the 3D Printing Academy website.

YTF Joins A4AI with Statement: Internet Access Should Be a Basic Human Right

YTF became a member of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), initiative of the World Wide Web Foundation. YTF is on the A4AI Advisory Council and has made a 2017 commitment to meet A4AI’s gender equity #TechWomenAfrica goals.

Youth for Technology Foundation A4AAI

From left: Njideka Harry (YTF), Sonia Jorge (A4AI), Dorothy Gordon (Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT) and Anne Shongwe (UN Women)

#TechWomenAfrica calls for a gender-responsive policy to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Leaders representing nearly 30 countries gathered in Accra on September 13-14 for the inaugural Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology. The summit explored policy solutions to address the digital gender gap in Africa, with specific focus on four areas: affordable broadband, women’s rights online, digital education and skills, and digital entrepreneurship.

YTF made the following commitments after the summit.

Commitment to Digital Skills and Education

Finding:  For women who were not online, not knowing how to use the Internet was the most commonly-cited barrier. Yet, the countries assessed are making painfully slow progress on providing digital literacy training and Internet access in public schools.

  • Train 250 local African teachers on how to use the Internet, how to use the Internet for instructional purposes, and how to increase students’ ICT skills.
  • Train 1,500 African women entrepreneurs how to use the Internet and how to use the Internet for business-building purposes, including access to/use of mobile financial services.
  • Train 500 female employees of women entrepreneurs how to use the Internet for online communication and marketing purposes to support the development of the women entrepreneurs’ business and to gain greater employable skills of their own, including access to/use of mobile financial services.
  • Follow-up with SMS messaging to encourage trainee use of the Internet.

Commitment to Relevant Content and Services

Finding: Ensure what women find online is relevant and empowering. Two key areas identified were (1) reproductive and sexual health and (2) access to mobile financial services.

  • Train 1,500 women entrepreneurs and 500 of their female employees how to use mobile value added services to grow their businesses.
  • Follow-up with SMS education/business messaging to encourage trainee’s use of the Internet.

 

Starting at 1:32 in this video, Njideka shares her views on changing the paradigm from technology users to innovators.

Youth for Technology Foundation TechWomen_Accra

YTF’s President & CEO, Njideka Harry delivering her remarks on the “Digital Education and Skills” panel at the conference.

 

Lending Our Voice at the UN General Assembly

Njideka Harry Highlights 3D Africa as a solution to accelerate innovation through women and girls

_MG_5628

Pictured: Girls enrolled in YTF programming in Eastern Nigeria

YTF President and CEO Njideka Harry is in New York this week, contributing insights on accelerating innovation for sustainable development at the 71st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Harry will participate on a panel titled, “Accelerating Innovation: Empowering Women & Girls” at a breakfast event organized by the governments of Finland and Tanzania, UN-Women and UNICEF.

This opportunity will shed light on YTF’s 3D Africa program, which helps girls gain valuable skills and employment pathways. In addition to providing software development and mobile application training, 3D Africa teaches unemployed youth engineers to use 3D modeling software and hardware tools and at the same time provides them with entrepreneurial skills to competitively monetize their talent in the global marketplace.

On the panel, Harry will cover why educating a new generation of women is a critical part of a sustainable future. She will describe the main pathway for this goal as building gender-transformative entrepreneurial ecosystems that create opportunities to actually challenge gender norms and promote positions of social and political influence for women in communities.

“We see economic empowerment and education as two key drivers of innovation, as well as advancement for both girls and women,” said Harry. “Innovation and shifts in gender roles are each catalytic processes that drive change. With that in mind, YTF engages girls and women in technology through making, creating and inventing. We believe this is an effective pathway to attract under-represented groups, like girls, to STEM fields.”

Fellow panelists in the panel discussion include: Marianne Vikkula, CEO of SLUSH; Doreen Kessy, COO of Ubongo Kids; and Wanjiru Waweru Waithaka, Founder and CEO of Funkidz. The event will be moderated by Chris Fabian of UNICEF.

All About Digital Education: A Technology Summit in Ghana

YTF Academy students at the Wezesha Digital Village, Nairobi, Kenya

YTF Academy students at the Wezesha Digital Village, Nairobi, Kenya

For two days in September, a group of high-level individuals are gathering in Accra, Ghana, for a summit with a mission: furthering the rights and interests of African women and girls through technology policies. The Youth for Technology Foundation’s (YTF) President and CEO Njideka Harry is participating as a panelist for “Digital Education and Skills,” lending her voice and expertise to help shape the conversation and provide actionable insights.

The “Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology,” taking place September 13-14, focuses on four areas: affordable broadband, women’s rights online, digital education and skills, and digital entrepreneurship.”

“Young people need more comprehensive education that responds to labor market needs,” said Harry. “A complete absence of skills of youth in Africa is a problem too, but skills mismatches seem more relevant.”

Harry continued, “We know estimates suggest that by 2020, over 60 percent of new jobs created will require skills that less than 20 percent of the workforce possesses. Since women and girls make up more than half of the world’s population and outnumber men in university attendance and graduation, they can make vital contributions to bridging the skills gap. But only if the right enabling environment exists.”

This event’s topic is a sweet spot for YTF. As an organization that uses the power of technology to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in developing countries, YTF knows that accelerating the achievement of gender parity is not just a fairness argument but an economic imperative. It is key to building a better world. Over 17,000 girls and women benefit from YTF’s education and entrepreneurship training programs in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda in 2015.

This is the first summit for the collaboration between the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the World Wide Web Foundation, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), the African Development Bank and UN Women.

YTF Supports Africa Code Week

 The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) announced their role as a network partner for Africa Code Week, happening October 1-10. Two YTF staffers also serve as ambassadors for the initiative, including Joseph Kamau in Kenya and Chibuike Egejuru in Nigeria. Africa Code Week hosts workshops across 17 countries this week, and YTF will host training in both Kenya and in Nigeria. 

Hundreds of coding workshops will be held across Africa, bringing training opportunities to 20,000 youth, ages 8 to 24.

The project launched in June, and spent four months gearing up with registration, partnership agreements and activity planning. Following the early October Africa Code Week, an “Hour of Code” on December 4 will feature follow-up workshops held in several countries.

“This initiative reflects a huge need across Africa, and we are proud to lend our experience and staff to such an important effort,” said YTF President Njideka Harry. “Joseph and Chibuike are both talented and passionate in helping youth gain technology skills, and Africa Code Week is the perfect intersection to help further their work through YTF.”

Africa Code Week’s mission is “To empower future generations with the coding tools and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors of Africa’s economic development.”

 

acwLogo 

YTF at Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum

September 8, 2015 – The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) will participate in the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum’s (AWIEF) event, themed Investing in Women Entrepreneurs: Unleashing Africa’s Economic Growth, September 8 and 9 in Lagos, Nigeria. The conference will assemble successful entrepreneurs and business leaders from diverse African countries and beyond for a discussion on the role of women in Africa’s growth and development. Focus areas include: education, access to finance, financial inclusion, information and communication technologies (ICTs), business skills, training and economic opportunities.

YTF founder and President Njideka Harry will moderate a panel titled, “Unlocking Potential for Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Training and Technology.” Harry will be joined by panelists including Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia and Raphael Afaedo, co-founder and CEO, Supermart Nigeria. In this panel, Harry will introduce YTF’s work and talk about the opportunity technology provides women to enter the electronic value chain. According to Euromonitor, “Nigeria has the fastest growing e-commerce market on the African continent, with the retail sub-sector expected to grow from $104 million in 2014 to $1 billion in 2019, despite economic slowdown.” YTF sees e-commerce as an untapped market for women entrepreneurs in particular.

Njideka Harry (center) with Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia (left) and Mopelola Balogun (right), MTN Nigeria

Njideka Harry (center) with Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia (left) and Mopelola Balogun (right), MTN Nigeria

As technology continues to define the 21st century workplace, participants will explore and evaluate ways to boost women entrepreneurship, including business skills training and development, mobile technology and access to finance and mentoring, among others. 

Harry is also a keynote speaker for a panel titled, “Financial Inclusion a Critical Factor for Fostering Sustainable Growth & Development.” 

YTF’s President sharing our work with financial inclusion and technology serving women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

YTF’s President sharing our work with financial inclusion and technology serving women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

“Entrepreneurship is the life line of a healthy economy,” said Harry. “By creating an ecosystem to support more female owned businesses, these entrepreneurs can play a significant role by creating their own wealth and jobs. As YTF continues to support and train women in entrepreneurship endeavors, I am thrilled to participate in such an important event. I’m looking forward to learning from my fellow event participants and taking some lessons learned back to our work.”

Njideka Harry (second from right) with AWIEF conference presenters

Njideka Harry (second from right) with AWIEF conference presenters

Findings from the 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index demonstrate that Africa continues to fall behind when it comes to fostering women entrepreneurs. According to the index, Africa ranked the lowest as compared to the rest of the world. YTF knows that women’s labor force participation is a key source of long term economic growth. Female education can lead not only to increased revenues and job creation, but to healthier and better educated families – ultimately creating more prosperous communities and nations. By helping transform the lives of promising women entrepreneurs, we in turn transform the lives of those around them. 

###

ABOUT AFRICA WOMEN INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM (AWIEF)

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is a premier, pan-African conference and exhibition event that will bring together an exclusive group of thought leaders, women entrepreneurs and women in business, investors, MSMEs, international development organizations, NGOs, CSOs, trade missions, foundations, governments and policy makers, the private sector and media. It provides a platform that will showcase deliberations around the role that African women play in shaping the continent’s economic future, the challenges and constraints they face, and to proffer solutions.

Q&A: 60 seconds with Njideka Harry

 

Njideka Harry, the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), was interviewed about the upcoming World Economic Forum on Africa, which took place in Cape Town on 4th and 5th June.  Here’s a peek: 

What’s your solution for solving Africa’s skills crisis?

The educational system in Africa is not broken, it’s obsolete.  The success of the African continent in the 21st century – its wealth and welfare – will depend on the ideas and the skills of its population.  As the world becomes increasingly technological, the value of these assets will be determined by the effectiveness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.  STEM education will help produce the flexible workforce needed to compete in a global marketplace while ensuring that our society continues to make fundamental discoveries.  Technology is omnipresent in today’s society; over 95 percent of jobs have a digital component.  If young people, in particular, are not adequately trained, they will have reduced access to employment which could have further ramifications for their social, economic and political inclusion.

Read the full piece here.  

 

 

 

YTF Leaves a Mark at World Economic Forum in South Africa

Youth for Technology Foundation Leaves a Mark at World Economic Forum in South Africa
Njideka Harry led discussions and participated in sessions to explore the
future of technology in Africa

Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) President and CEO Njideka Harry traveled to South Africa last week to actively participate in numerous sessions at the 2015 World Economic Forum on Africa.

Each session offered opportunities for Harry to share meaningful statistics and stories about YTF’s work, in particular in Africa. “It’s not about Internet of Things but about the Intelligence of Things,” Harry said during one of her sessions. Additional information and short quotes from Harry’s participation can be found on YTF’s Twitter feed.

Throughout the week, Harry served twice as a discussion leader and once as panelist:

• Emerging Technology Debates of Tomorrow (Discussion Leader): Participants discussed a future they might want in regards to emerging technologies and regional challenges.

• Transforming Education in Africa (Discussion Leader): The group explored how African education can be transformed to better prepare future generations, including addressing the quality gap, exploring scaling public-private models, and developing job creators.

• Future of Technology (Panelist): This session explored pushing the next technological frontier in Africa, including ways to use space technology to enable development, inspire future scientists and engineers, and provide incentives to innovate. Harry was joined by distinguished panelists from IBM, McKinsey & Company, and South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology. The session was moderated by radio host Bruce Whitfield.

Harry’s participation was highlighted in both a video and a quote compilation from the World Economic Forum.

Read more about the World Economic Forum on Africa.

###
ABOUT YOUTH FOR TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION
www.youthfortechnology.org
ytf@youthfortechnology.org
Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) is an international non-profit, citizen-sector organization founded in 2000. We partner with low-income communities in the U.S. and with rural communities in developing nations to create rich learning environments for youth and women to identify problems, learn about the causes, and apply appropriate technology as they solve critical problems in their home communities. the power of technology to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in developing countries.

YTF Is There as Sci-Fi Becomes a Reality

 

YTF Is There as Sci-Fi Becomes a Reality

In Africa, there is a vibrant culture of young people creating things. Having worked in this field extensively over the last 15 years, we at Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) know innovation often comes from the unavailability of resources and pure necessity. There simply aren’t enough jobs to go around, so innovation is born from constraints. For many young people growing up in Africa today, there are a few options: improvise, adapt or overcome.

This culture has bred a generation of problem solvers and innovators. A generation of young people who are faced with challenges, but still find solutions that work. To help support this mentality, there is often a merger of private and public sector partnerships in developing countries that have created an ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs. 

Hacking our way to innovation

Learning and adapting is part of our lifeblood at YTF. We are always thirsty to understand what models work and how we can adapt to the environments we work in.

Take GE’s First Build outfit in Louisville, Kentucky, where our U.S. offices are located and where we implement STEM-based programs in disadvantaged areas like Louisville’s West End. First Build is an open community space for makers, students and engineers to co-create smart products for the future. 

YTF was invited to attend First Build’s very first hackathon in early April. Makers, techies, engineers and artists worked overnight to come up with the home of the future. The focus was on hacking existing appliances and making new appliances to improve the overall customer experience. They had access to any tool you can think of – 3D printers, laser cutters, water jets, CNC mills, welding and hand power tools, soldering stations, woodworking equipment and more.  Teams worked around the clock to create cool products with actual utility – a sensor-enabled water faucet that detects the length of time for hand washing, a kitchen cabinet greenhouse and a wifi-enabled crock pot were some of our favorites.  

Lifting up ideas

YTF_FirstBuild

We believe the best way to learn about a problem is to build a solution. Open innovation allows people who have a passion for a certain problem to come together to create a workable solution. YTF knows that open innovation can work mostly because you are tapping into a very different group of people, those who normally don’t think about engineering challenges.

Solutions from open innovation stem from asking the right questions. Ten-year-old Jazmine had the opportunity to suggest two of her project ideas, including taking apart Neocomimi cat ears, robotic cat ears that respond to brainwaves, just to understand how they work.

Another key component to taking innovation into action is using micro-factories. Micro-factories place emphasis on localization, giving companies an opportunity to move certain products to larger scale production with less risk since they are tested on a small and localized platform first. Micro-factories allow companies to innovate faster and introduce products consumers want when they want them.

 YTF_FirstBuild2 

YTF had an incredible time learning and sharing our work at the First Build hackathon too. We imagine a place like this, not just in Louisville, but anywhere, especially in developing countries.  A place where people can come to learn, innovate and share. A place where girls feel safe and where “making” is cool.  We know it will take all hands on deck to make this work and help incentivize this as the future of technology, but we know it’s worth it to help bring about the innovation we yearn for.