Afghan Girls Celebrated at Global Robotics Event


Making it to Washington was the real challenge for some of the 163 teams from around the world.

As the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge – a STEM exposition featuring teenagers from 157 countries – wound down Tuesday evening in Washington, a deafening roar took over DAR Constitution Hall as more than 150 countries’ flags waved in the air during a closing ceremony that celebrated collaboration, innovation and engineering excellence.

It made no difference which team’s name was called: Hundreds of students and mentors from the 163 teams cheered just as loudly for their competitors as they did for their allies. Over the past few months, each team built a robot based on the same kit and then brought it to the July 16-18 FIRST Global Challenge, which had a water security theme. The nonprofit FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, to promote global collaboration in science, technology, engineering and math.

The friendly atmosphere at the “Robotic Olympics” made it clear that organizers and teams alike viewed the event as a challenge rather than a competition. For some, half of that challenge was getting to the nation’s capital.

Afghanistan’s team made headlines this month when its visa requests were denied twice and the group almost missed the competition, until President Donald Trump intervened last week to urge State Department authorities to reconsider. The five girls were granted entry to the U.S. less than a week before the competition, leaving the team to scramble to find flights and plan the trip, team mentor Alireza Mehraban said. Still, he said they were relieved when they heard they’d be allowed to attend the competition after all.

The Afghan girls, who won a silver medal for courageous achievement during the awards ceremony (the gold went to South Sudan), were not the only team that overcame barriers to compete at the FIRST Global Challenge.

The Gambian team, made up of two girls and three boys, was also initially denied entry to the U.S., but ended up making its way to Washington. Team member Fatoumata Ceesay said they continued working on their robot while they waited in limbo, unsure if the State Department would reverse its decision.

The refusal rate for temporary visas into the U.S. was about 74 percent for those coming from Afghanistan and about 70 percent for Gambia in 2016, according to State Department statistics.

“I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences,” FIRST Global President Joe Sestak, a former congressman and U.S. Navy admiral, said in a July 12 statement. “That is why I am most grateful to the U.S. government and its State Department for ensuring Afghanistan, as well as Gambia, would be able to join us for this international competition this year.”

Continue onto U.S. News & World Report to read more about the Global STEM competition.

NASA’s ‘hidden figures’ to be awarded Congressional Gold Medals

Four of Nasa's "Hidden Figures" are pictured in a collage

Four of NASA’s “hidden figures,” together with all of the women who contributed to the agency’s success in the space race to the moon, will be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

President Trump recently (Nov. 8) signed into law the “Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act,” which provides for the award to mathematician Katherine Johnson and engineer Christine Darden, as well as the posthumous award to engineer Mary Jackson and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan.

The act also calls for a fifth gold medal recognizing “all women who served as computers, mathematicians and engineers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration between the 1930s and the 1970s.”

“This is an exciting opportunity to honor the pioneering generation of female mathematicians for their commitment and service to NASA and to our country,” said Margot Lee Shetterly, author of “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race,” in a statement issued by the House after the act passed in September. “The women who did this work came from across our country and each of their hometowns should embrace them as heroes.”

Shetterly’s book served as the basis for the 2016 feature film “Hidden Figures,” which dramatized the experiences of Johnson, Vaughan and Jackson.

Johnson calculated trajectories for NASA’s early human spaceflights, including the suborbital launch of the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard on his 1961 Mercury mission, and the first flight of a U.S. astronaut into Earth orbit, John Glenn on his 1962 Friendship 7 mission. Working with the Space Task Group, Johnson became the first woman in NASA’s flight research division to receive credit as an author of a research report. She is today 101.

Vaughan led the West Area Computing unit at what is now the Langley Research Center in Virginia, becoming the first African American supervisor at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor agency to NASA. She later became a leading computer programmer as a part of the space agency’s analysis and computation division. Vaughan died in 2008 at the age of 98.

Jackson was the first African American woman engineer at NASA. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program manager. She died in 2005 at the age of 83.

Darden, who became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Jackson, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design and was the first African American of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley. She is 77 today.

The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act directs that Vaughan’s medal be provided to the Smithsonian for display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Jackson’s is to be presented to her granddaughter, Wanda Jackson.

Continue on to to read the complete article.

An All-Female Flight Crew Took 120 Girls to NASA in an Initiative to Close Aviation’s Gender Gap

Delta flight crew pose with students in cabin of plane

Delta Air Lines recently flew 120 girls from Salt Lake City, Utah, to NASA in Houston as part of an initiative to close the gender gap in aviation.

“We’re taking ownership to improve gender diversity by exposing girls at a young age and providing a pipeline so that 10 years from now, they will be the pilots in the Delta cockpit inspiring generations of women who follow,” said Beth Poole, general manager of pilot development at Delta, who helped begin the initiative in 2015.

FAA data from 2017 shows that women make up just over 7 percent of 609,306 pilots in the U.S., according to Women in Aviation, a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women in the industry.

Everyone involved in the plane’s takeoff, flight and landing — from pilots to ramp agents working on the ground — was a woman, the airline said.

The initiative first began in 2015 and has since brought 600 female students on its journey, according to Delta. The company’s goal is to “diversify a male-dominated industry and expose girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers at a young age.”

The girls also met Jeanette Epps, NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer, Delta said.

Delta’s initiative speaks to a broader problem in the aviation industry — one that’s been recognized by The International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized UN Agency that provides a global forum for member states to adopt and implement international aviation standards.

At a keynote address at a Global Aviation Gender Summit in August 2018, ICAO secretary general Dr. Fang Liu had said that “air transport must address head-on why women are still underrepresented in the majority of the technical and executive positions in aviation.”

Continue on to Time to read the complete article.

Teen girl invents simple, yet innovative way to remove blind spots in cars

blind spot on car

By Sasha Lekach

I’ll admit it: I’ve had a pedestrian enter the crosswalk without me immediately noticing because they were blocked by the right side of my car. But what if your car frame didn’t block your line of sight while driving?

That’s what 14-year-old Alaina Gassler looked into for her invention at the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition for middle schoolers from the Society for Science and the Public this week. She came up with a project called, “Improving Automobile Safety by Removing Blind Spots.”

She built a prototype system with a webcam, projector, and 3D-printed materials to fill in the space the car frame blocks from drivers. No more missing information. Simple, yet elegant.

The idea earned the West Grove, Pennsylvania, teen the top place in the nationwide competition with the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize in honor of overall STEM excellence.

She mounted the webcam outside the passenger side A-pillar on a car and then displayed the live video on the inside pillar from a projector attached to the sunroof above the driver’s seat. She even had to print a special part to help focus the projector at such close range. She then faced issues with projecting the image on the interior frame. So she resurfaced it with retro reflective fabric.

As she explained it in an email, the material “only reflects light back to the light source, which is the projector in this case. Since the driver’s eyes are next to the projector, the driver can see a crisp, clear image, and the passengers only see a black piece of fabric.”

She said she noticed the problem with her solution when sitting in seats other than the driver side. The image was just blurred, moving lights for everyone but the driver. “During testing when I sat in the passenger seat of the car and the moving light from the projector gave me a headache,” she said. The new material solved that.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

This 13-year-old scientist may have designed a better version of Hyperloop

Caroline Crouchley giving hyperloop presentation

Several rival companies may be hard at work trying to get Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept off the ground, but hurtling across country — maybe even across continents — at 600 miles per hour in a low-pressure steel tube still feels far from reality.

But 13-year-old New York student Caroline Crouchley may have invented a more economically viable and eco-friendly Hyperloop solution.

Crouchley’s idea, which just won second place in the annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge, is to build pneumatic tubes next to existing train tracks.

Magnetic shuttles would travel through these vacuum tubes, connected via magnetic arm to trains traveling on the existing tracks.

This system would utilize current train tracks, thereby cutting infrastructure costs and, Crouchley says, eradicating the potential safety risk posed by propelling passengers in a vacuum.

There’d be no need for trains to use diesel or electric motors, making the trains lighter and more fuel-efficient

This is important to Crouchley, who aims to devise active solutions to the climate crisis.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

NOGLSTP is accepting nominations for its 2020 Scientist of the Year, Engineer of the Year, and Educator of the Year


Nominate your colleague, mentor, or hero before November 30! The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) Recognition Awards were established as a means of identifying, honoring, and documenting the contributions of outstanding LGBTQ+ science, engineering and technology professionals, as well as corporations, academic institutions, and businesses that support LGBTQ+ professionals in the fields of science and technology.

The 2020 award recipients will be honored at NOGLSTP’s Out to Innovate Career Summit for LGBTQ+ People in STEM, during the oSTEM National Conference (November 2020, Anaheim CA).

The deadline for 2020 nomination package submissions will be November 30, 2019.

See details here:

Ace Your Next Performance Review!

Man in suit with co-workers behind standing looking confident

By Jillian Hamilton

Dreading a performance review is normal. Truthfully, your manager might be dreading your performance review, too.

Something about the performance review process has led employees to feel threatened and vulnerable instead of as an opportunity for growth. In a fast-paced work environment, many managers consider performance reviews as an uncomfortable requirement to complete or as a way to document poor performers for a potential employment termination.

While some companies are bad at growing their employees, you can do some of your own work to show up to the review table prepared. Your preparation may save your job, but ultimately, it will help you take control of your career and progress with your organization.

Here are three ways to prepare for your next review.

Get your mind ready. While sometimes money is directly linked to a performance, it’s helpful if you don’t link them in your own mind. When it comes to performance reviews, you have to take the long view of your career and not the short view of your bank account. Yes, paying the bills or taking a vacation is important, but using this opportunity to set your overall career in the right direction will have a long-term payoff with higher yields. So, don’t be short sighted and feel emotionally tied to a raise with your review. Feedback can be helpful to growth, so make that your mindset. When you’re focused on growing as an individual, you might even find that the money will follow sooner rather than later.

Spend 12 months planning for your review – not 12 minutes. Prepare throughout the year for your performance review. Spending time compiling your lists of goals or accomplishments will give you a leg up when you walk into your manager’s office. If you are unsure of what to prepare, here are a few ways you can prepare before the review:

Review your job description. It is helpful to understand where you are meeting and exceeding the documented expectations. If your description does not match your current position, it may be time to help craft a new description. Be sure to outline the additional job requirements for your manager. Bring the solution to the problem with you – especially at a performance review.

  • Review your old goals and identify new ones for the next year. Showcase your drive. You want to identify how you have been achieving goals and how you are driven to keep working hard and growing within the organization. Often, when others are driven, it can be motivating for others.
  • List out any learning initiatives you took on over the year – formal and informal. Lifelong learners are motivating to be around – even when they report to you. Showing the initiatives that you have taken on company or your time can highlight your value.
  • Look through your old appraisals, if you have them handy. See what goals you’ve met since then or habits you’ve adjusted. You may not need to communicate this information, but if you’re reviewing with a new manager in the organization, it could be helpful to refresh your memory on what other managers have done in the past. If the review takes a sharp left turn in an unexpected direction, you will be better prepared with this information fresh in your mind.
  • Prepare some questions for your manager. But do not ask questions about raises or promotions. That is similar to starting an interview process with a request for salary amount. Take that time to ask your manager about their career path or the history of the organization. An attitude of curiosity or learning can help you and your manager both walk away from the review encouraged.
  • List out your accomplishments. It’s helpful to track these items throughout the year, but even spending 30–60 minutes doing this before the review will help you remember your work accurately when you feel like you are in the hot seat during the review. Also, an added bonus is that identifying your accomplishments will help you keep your resume current.

Ask someone for help. Just like interviewing is a learned skillset for most, so is the performance review conversation. Find a trusted peer and have them ask you some hard questions. Practice communicating your accomplishments and growth to another human being before you try it on your boss. If your organization has a poor track record with performance reviews, this last step is especially important. All of your preparation is useless if you don’t take a little time to give your brain and emotions some practice.

You might still dread your performance review, but at least show up to the table prepared. You owe it to yourself and your career.


Preliminary Salaries Show STEM Majors Lead Class of 2019

young woman working with a microscope in a science laboratory

Although it is early in the Class of 2019 salary reporting cycle, preliminary results show graduates in several STEM disciplines are expected to be the top paid, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Results of NACE’s Fall 2019 Salary Survey indicate that, at this early juncture, graduates in the computer and information sciences ($81,292), engineering ($69,180), mathematics and statistics ($68,785), and engineering technologies ($60,473) disciplines are leading the Class of 2019 in terms of average starting salary. (See Figure 1.)

This year’s overall fall average stands at $55,280, which is 10.6 percent higher than last year’s reported fall average of $50,004 for Class of 2018 graduates. However, it is extremely important to view these results with caution as these are preliminary salaries that are based on a small number of reporting institutions. In fact, year-end reports typically show significantly more-modest increases. (Note: The year-end report for the Class of 2019 will be released in summer 2020.)

Analysis of the broad categories of majors shows how the limited data are producing results that are not consistent with those collected in the last several years. In fact, the yearly comparisons of the individual disciplines show exactly which areas are driving the overall increase.

Of the top-paid categories, computer and information sciences show one of the highest increases. In addition, the other top-paid categories are showing increases across the board, creating a perfect scenario for a large increase in reported salaries.




Average Salary






Average Salary

Computer & Information Sciences $81,292 $73,768 10.2%
Engineering $69,180 $65,455 5.7%
Mathematics & Statistics $68,785 $65,349 5.3%
Engineering Technologies $60,473 $57,267 5.6%
Health Professions & Related Programs $54,175 $52,711 2.8%
Business $53,912 $51,872 3.9%
Social Sciences $53,729 $44,047 22.0%
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies $50,302 $48,966 2.7%

Source: Fall 2019 Salary Survey report, National Association

About Salary Survey: The Fall 2019 Salary Survey report provides actual starting salaries (not projections) for the college Class of 2019. Data were collected from July 10, 2019, through September 27, 2019, and were provided by 89 colleges and universities nationwide, who are participants in NACE’s national First-Destination Survey. The data are preliminary salaries for Class of 2019 graduates in the date range from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. An executive summary of the Fall 2019 Salary Survey report is available on the NACE website.

About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit

Senator Harris Opens Doors to STEM Opportunities

Kamala Harris dressed in a blue suit stands at podium giving a speech

This year, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) introduced the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act legislation to provide funding for school districts across the country to support STEM education for girls, students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities. With the United States facing a projected shortage of approximately 1 million STEM professionals by 2025, Harris is committed to increasing opportunities for women and minorities to secure these high wage, stable jobs.

“When we have more women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities in STEM jobs, we get better results,” said Harris. “Preparing our nation’s students for the jobs of the 21st century starts in the classroom, and we must ensure that the benefits of that education are shared equally with those who are currently underrepresented in STEM professions.”

Specifically, the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act would authorize a $40 million competitive grant program for school districts to improve participation in STEM education. Examples of qualifying activities include:

  • Providing tutoring and mentoring programs in STEM subjects
  • Providing after school and summer activities designed to encourage interest and skill-building in STEM subjects
  • Providing subsidies to minimize the costs of STEM-related educational materials, equipment, field trips, internships, and work experiences
  • Educating parents about the opportunities and advantages of STEM careers
  • Providing professional development services to teachers, principals, and other personnel aimed at reduced racial and gender bias

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

Supporters of the legislation include American Federation of Teachers, Association of California School Administrators, CSforAll, Girl Scouts, Girls Who Code, and Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Recently, Senator Harris introduced legislation to combat sexual harassment in STEM following a landmark report which found that sexual harassment is pervasive in institutions of high education and contributes to loss of highly talented, highly trained individuals in the STEM workforce.


These shoes are made from bamboo, sugarcane, and cork—and are totally carbon neutral

Cariuma carbon neutral shoes lined up in different colors

Making a typical pair of sneakers might generate around 30 pounds of CO2 emissions—both from the shoes’ materials and from the energy used to make dozens of separate components in an average of 360 processing steps.

A new pair of shoes from a brand called Cariuma shrinks that footprint by switching materials and simplifying the design. Then the company offsets the remaining footprint, making the sneakers carbon neutral.

Other brands “are mostly huge corporations with massive production that are not really focused on caring about the environment as a whole or even best practices for people involved . . . in mass production,” says Fernando Porto, Cariuma’s Brazil-based cofounder and chief creative officer, who decided to leave a job at a larger company two years ago to explore the idea of making shoes differently. “For us, it became clear that our angle would be trying to bring the only sneaker brand that would be good-looking, crazy comfortable, and consciously made.”

The new shoe is called the Ibi and retails for $98. Its upper part is knitted from a blend of bamboo and recycled plastic. The company developed a new way to work with bamboo, which is typically turned into fiber through a harsh process that involves dissolving the treelike material with a toxic chemical that can endanger workers and pollute the environment near the factory. Cariuma’s process instead heats up the bamboo to turn it into powdered charcoal; mixing that powder with recycled PET plastic makes it possible to create a yarn that can be used to make the shoes. (Some other shoe companies use recycled plastic alone to knit their products.) As the bamboo grows, it sequesters carbon, making it carbon neutral as a material. When bamboo is harvested, it doesn’t kill the plant, which continues to grow and sequester more carbon.

The foam in the sole, which would typically be made from petrochemicals, is made from sugarcane, which sequesters enough carbon as it grows that even with the manufacturing required to turn it into foam, it’s carbon negative. Every ton of standard EVA, the foam used in shoes, emits about two tons of carbon dioxide during its production. For a ton of the “green EVA” made from sugarcane, those emissions are avoided, and another two tons of carbon dioxide are sequestered. “It’s not only carbon negative, but a lot negative,” says Porto. The insoles in the shoe are made from cork.

As with other shoes that are knit—like the Flyknit sneakers that Nike pioneered in 2012—using yarn instead of larger pieces of fabric reduces waste. The shoe’s upper is made from only three pieces, making the manufacturing process simpler than a traditional shoe and saving energy. “Two-thirds of the carbon emissions in the [traditional] shoe process come from manufacturing,” says Porto. “So if you don’t think about this in the design process while you’re developing the product, you won’t be able to fix it later.” Any remaining emissions, including the emissions from shipping the product to customers, are offset through projects including protecting part of the Amazon rainforest.

Since a large part of the environmental impact of fashion stems from the fact that apparel and accessories are often thrown out after only a few uses, the company wanted to make shoes that would last as long as possible. Elements of the design, including the way the sole is stitched to the rest of the shoe, make it more durable. Using a classic aesthetic instead of chasing trends also means that consumers are more likely to keep wearing the shoes. “Something we ask in our sustainable design ethos is, ‘Is this aesthetic still going to be pleasant to your eyes 20, 30 years later?’” says Porto. “If it’s not, we shouldn’t go for it.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

7 Indigenous Pioneers You Need to Know

Indigenous People's Day

From Popular Mechanics. October 14th is Indigenous People’s Day, and we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the work of indigenous scientists, engineers, and inventors who have shaped our world.

They’ve built rockets, developed technology used both on Earth and on Mars, and contributed to our understanding of how ancient peoples interacted with the animals in their ecosystem.

From the first Native American physician to a steadfast youth climate activist to a NASA astronaut, these seven indigenous pioneers have paved an inspiring path.

These doctors, scientists, and activists have all paved an inspiring path.

Start the slideshow on Popular Mechanics here.