March is Women’s History Month! This month, we’re celebrating the trailblazers of the past and the current women in STEM who are making history by inspiring our robotics community and paving the way for the future. Read more about our women leaders below as they share their experiences, challenges, and thoughts for the next generation of female leaders.

Angela R. Wells

Angela Wells is a Cloud Engineer, Patent Holder, and Associate Faculty at City University of Seattle Washington. She focuses on robotics and 3D modeling. She is passionate about impacting the lives of next-generation innovators under the umbrella of BlackInRobotics.She credits Dr. Carlotta Berry, Maurice Dawson, Reuben Ajayi, and Cyril Azubuine as her mentors and inspiration.

"The strength every student needs to thrive in this field of mine is to be persistence and willingness to pay the price." - Angela R. Wells

Dr. Ayanna Howard

Dr. Ayanna Howard is a Dean of The Ohio State University College of Engineering. She became interested in robotics in middle school when she watched a TV show called "The Bionic Woman" and made it a goal to build the bionic woman. She learned that she needed to develop interdisciplinary skills in engineering and computer science in order to accomplish that goal. As a junior in college, she became fascinated with artificial intelligence (AI) when, during one of her internships at NASA, she was tasked with designing my first neural network associated with terrain coverage. She quickly saw that if she could combine the power of AI with robotics, she could enable my robotic-building ambitions of the future. She believes a fundamental strength for students is to have passion for what they do. Things sometimes don’t work out exactly as anyone envisions. Sometimes life and/or people place barriers in a person’s way. And sometimes, a student might not have received the proper educational preparation due to no fault of their own.  Despite these challenges, having passion is the one controllable element that can help motivate the grit necessary to push through.

“Always believe in yourself. Strive to be your best cheerleader and coach.” - Dr. Ayanna Howard

Jennifer Spencer

Jennifer Spencer has been teaching math and science since 1999 and added robotics to the lesson plans in 2010. She has always been a “techie” and enjoys all the latest and greatest technologies. are the ones in my head! She’s seen students uninterested in school become interested once robotics were involved. Students may not have the answer or know the correct programming step, but she’s seen them persevere. She became passionate about robotics because she’s seen it change her students’ lives. She believes it is important for girls to try robotics. Young kids are encouraged to try different sports and hobbies, and robotics should be the same.

"You are capable of more than you know! You are an amazing individual and you can do hard things!" - Jennifer Spencer

Jessica Constant

Jessica Constant has been a teacher for 12 years and has been coaching VEX IQ Challenge teams for the last 7 years. When she became a robotics coach, she was the only female coach in her district. She learned as much as she could about the program, the VIQC game, and the REC Foundation. She strived to become knowledgeable about the program, but also approachable. When her district participated in a REC Foundation District Grant, she became the grant manager. This allowed her to help schools in her district start a robotics program. Her leadership encouraged other women to start robotics programs in their schools, which has led to several female coaches and girls on robotics teams in her district. She believes girls should become involved in robotics because they can! Robotics is a great way to learn the design process. It helps build confidence through failure and iteration. Robotics teaches everyone to solve problems and think creatively.

"Keep working towards your goal with your head held high. You will face challenges. When you do, remember that you are amazing and able to overcome anything!" - Jessica Constant

Michelle Lonsinger

Michelle Lonsinger is a professional with 25 years of experience in the STEM industry. Her daughter participated in the VEX IQ Challenge program in 2015, and she has been involved as a mentor and volunteer ever since. She saw students gain a variety of skills and a boost in their confidence as the season progressed. She believes that the tech industry needs more female leaders, and that can only happen if more girls pursue their interest in robotics and other STEM activities. Diverse teams (whether made up of students or career professionals) have a broader set of skills and perspectives, are more creative, and actively break down traditional barriers. Her advice to other robotics parents is that volunteering is a much better way to spend the day during competitions. Judging at an event and interviewing the student teams gives you a backstage pass to a very exclusive club filled with fascinating people. If you can’t make it to a tournament, consider judging the annual Online Challenges.

"Don't let yourself be boxed into anyone else's expectations of who you are or who you can be." - Michelle Lonsinger

We invite you to take our Girl Powered pledge! We're committed to showing how exciting it is to be involved with STEM, showcasing examples of how women are changing the world, providing tools for success, and enabling comfortable environments where all students' confidence and abilities can flourish. The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and VEX Robotics are working to make robotics reflective of the diverse world we live in, and the one we want to leave behind.

The REC Foundation and Girl Powered initiative is dedicated to redefining the face of STEM, showcasing how women are changing the world and sharing opportunities for girls to get involved. We are excited to share news of the 2021 ConnectHER Film Festival as a way for interested teams to submit a film entry to the Girls in Tech category to share their own experiences in STEM. Films can feature an inspiring girl or role model who studies or works in a STEM field or focus on a solution to the gender gap.

The ConnectHER Film Festival is an annual event and scholarship program designed to shine a light on critical issues affecting women and girls everywhere. High school and college students can submit original short films focused on a variety of critical women’s issues. Click here to view different film categories/awards.

No prior filmmaking experience is required, and first-time filmmakers are encouraged to apply. Winners receive a scholarship, film distribution channels, and mentor opportunities. To date, they’ve received over 1,000 original films from over 40 countries and have awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships.

The submission deadline is June 15, 2021. The film festival and awards ceremony will be held in the fall of 2021.

Click here to learn more about entry rules and get started.

About ConnectHER: ConnectHER is a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas, and focused on elevating the status of women and girls around the world. Every year, ConnectHer hosts a film festival in which high school and undergraduate college students submit 3-6 minute original films focused on critical women’s issues such as girls’ education, ending violence against women, poverty & economic independence, authentic beauty/body image and more.  Find out more at

About Girl Powered: We're committed to showing how exciting it is to be involved with STEM, showcasing examples of how women are changing the world, providing tools for success, and enabling comfortable environments where all students' confidence and abilities can flourish. The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and VEX Robotics are working to make robotics reflective of the diverse world we live in, and the one we want to leave behind.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020-21 Girl Powered Online Challenge, sponsored by Google.

The Girl Powered Online Challenge was created to show the robotics community at large just what it means to be a Girl Powered team! This season’s Girl Powered Online Challenge submissions were exceptionally compelling, engaging, and insightful, showcasing how teams experienced Girl Powered during one of the most challenging seasons to date.

We are so proud of these teams’ accomplishments and the stories that they shared. Continue reading below for some Girl Powered inspiration.

1st Place Winners

VIQC: Team 99808 A, NOVA IQ Robotics

Jeanelle wrote her Girl Powered essay about how girls are encouraged to rise above an invisible glass ceiling that is halting their progress in their careers. Read her essay here.

V5RC: Team 5327Z

Karen Zhao, Chelsea Lee, Angela Chao, Paulette Peram, Jeia So, Dylan Wang, Jacob Sommer, Samuel Wu, and Andres Silvera wrote about how their team is Girl Powered and how their team benefits from diversity. Read their essay here.

2nd Place Winners

VIQC: Team 55821S, Spartabots

Oakley Phipps wrote about her experience being on a Girl Powered team and how all students should reach for their dreams and challenge themselves through participation in STEM programs. Read her essay here.

V5RC: Team 6546A

Team 6546A wrote about what Girl Powered means to them and the impact on Girl Powered on their team, such as motivating team members to achieve what they want without fear of unjust criticism and knowing they are irreplaceable members. Read their essay here.

3rd Place Winners

VIQC: Team 5081F

Annabelle Acevedo wrote about her robotics journey and the Girl Powered opportunities that her team takes to make an impact on their community. Read her essay here.

V5RC: Team 4253A

Alicia Wang, Charlene Chen, Chia-Shuan Yeh, Kerrianne Chiu, and Madeline Lee wrote about how their all-girl team succeeded in robotics and what Girl Powered means to them. Read their essay here.

Learn more about Girl Powered! We're committed to showing how exciting it is to be involved with STEM, showcasing examples of how women are changing the world, providing tools for success, and enabling comfortable environments where all students' confidence and abilities can flourish. The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and VEX Robotics are working to make robotics reflective of the diverse world we live in, and the one we want to leave behind.

Click here to view Online Challenges currently open for submissions.

Girl Powered is celebrating Black History Month by shining a spotlight on these African American women who have made significant contributions to the STEM industry! These innovative women of color not only revolutionized their various fields of science but also paved the way for generations to come. Keep reading to learn more about five women in STEM we think you should know.

1. Dr. Njema Frazier

Dr. Njema Frazier is a theoretical nuclear physicist with a master’s and Ph.D. from Michigan State University and a B.S. in physics from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, Dr. Frazier works for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). At the NNSA, she works to establish the safety and security of stockpiled nuclear weapons without the need for nuclear explosive testing. She has led nuclear weapons modeling and simulation efforts as well as international collaborations. She is also acting director of the Office of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF).

Aside from an impressive history of working in STEM, Dr. Frazier makes committed efforts to be an advocate for improved diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in the classroom. This is apparent in her positions as a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), chair of the Algebra by 7th Grade (Ab7G) Initiative for grades 3 through 7, and founder and CEO of Diversity Science, LLC. Dr. Frazier has also received multiple career awards including, but not limited to, the DOD Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award, the Black Engineer of the Year, Science Spectrum’s Trailblazer Award, and a feature in the Grio’s List of 100 History Makers in the Making.

Click here to read more about her.

2. Katherine Johnson

American mathematician Katherine Johnson is a well-known historical figurehead of STEM. In 1953, she took a job with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)’s West Area Computing unit. This unit was a group of highly skilled African-American women who were tasked with manually performing complex mathematical calculations for program engineers. Along with the other women in this unit, Johnson provided mathematical computations that were crucial to the early U.S. Space Program’s success.

What Johnson is probably best known for is her role in calculating the flight path for the Freedom 7 in 1961, which took the first U.S. astronaut to space. Later on, she also aided in the calculation of when and where to launch the Apollo 11 rocket in 1969, which sent the first men to the moon. Her career at NASA continued until she retired in 1986. Since then, she received a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work and in 2016, she was the subject, along with Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, of a book titled Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. A movie titled Hidden Figures was released the same year, in which Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson.

Click here to read more about her.

3. Alicia M. Morgan

Alicia M. Morgan is an aerospace engineer with a master's degree in industrial engineering. She has an impressive list of professional engineering experience working at Fortune 500 companies such as Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, and Raytheon After thirteen years working in the aviation and defense industry with direct roles in propulsion systems, capital asset management, and process engineering, she phased into work in the nonprofit sector. From 2012-2015 she served as a board member for the nonprofit organization Training for Excellence. This is an annual teen leadership development program that helps teens structure and execute successful conferences for over 200 students.  

Her first role in nonprofit leadership was after school program, Heart House Dallas, serving over 150 students in 2014. She worked as a K-12 education advocate and was also involved in college/workforce preparedness initiatives at Bryan Adams High School.

In 2017, Morgan became the Vice President of Education and Programs for the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Annually, The Museum’s Young Women’s STEM Leadership Initiative (YWSLI) reaches over 2,100 middle girls. Alicia is also an advocate for STEAM + Arts Integration recognized as a J Rêve International Global Arts Education Fellow and Emerging Leader in STEAM Education. She has successfully published four op-ed pieces about Women in Leadership, STEM Education, and Overcoming Failure in publications such as Garnet News, Miss Magazine, Chicago Crain’s for Business, and The Hill.

Click here to read more about her.

4. Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson began her path to achieving her legendary status by receiving dual degrees in Math and Physical Sciences from Hampton Institute in 1942. From there, she became a math teacher in Calvert County, Maryland. Following this, she had several more career and location changes before settling at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory’s segregated West Area Computing unit in 1951.

After two years there, she began conducting research with the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, working with engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki. Eventually, Czarnecki suggested that Jackson enroll in a training program with the University of Virginia that would grant her a promotion from mathematician to engineer. These courses were held at the then-segregated Hampton High School, so Jackson had to acquire special permission to attend the after-work courses. However, despite the challenges, she completed the courses, was promoted, and became NASA’s first black female engineer in 1958.

In 1979, after two decades of working as an engineer, promotions slowed and the glass ceiling made itself apparent. Jackson became frustrated at being prevented from making it into management-level positions and took a demotion to fill an open position as the Federal Women’s Program Manager at Langley. In this position, she fought to improve hiring and promotion for following generations of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. Jackson retired in 1985 with many honors, including an Apollo Group Achievement Award and being named Langley’s Volunteer of the Year in 1976. Along with Katherine Johnson, she was featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, in which she was portrayed by Janelle Monáe.

Click here to read more about her.

5. Dr. Knatokie Ford

Dr. Knatokie Ford is the Founder and CEO of Fly Sci™ Enterprise, an education and media consulting organization focused on leveraging the power of storytelling to promote social change, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. A dynamic and inspiring speaker, Dr. Ford is an international advocate for STEM and media inclusion. As a biomedical scientist and social entrepreneur, she works with a number of leading organizations, including YouTube and the Association of National Advertisers where she serves as the STEM & Entertainment Engagement Advisor for the #SeeHer initiative.

Dr. Ford previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where she designed and led the “Image of STEM” project, which is listed in the top 100 S&T accomplishments of the Obama Administration. Prior to coming to the White House, Dr. Ford was a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is a former middle school teacher in Los Angeles, CA where she also worked in the entertainment industry.

Dr. Ford currently serves on the Barbie Global Advisory Council as well as the Toy Association’s STEM/STEAM Strategic Leadership Committee. She was a nominee in the “Shero” category of the inaugural Women’s Choice Awards in 2017 and is featured in the “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” book by Beverly Bond. Dr. Ford received her Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from Harvard University and her BS/MS in Chemistry/Biological Chemistry from Clark Atlanta University. Regis College awarded Dr. Ford an honorary doctorate of science in 2017.

Click here to read more about her.

The celebration doesn't stop here! With Women's History Month coming in March, you can give your STEM role models a shout-out by posting them on social media and tagging the REC Foundation and VEX Robotics with the hashtag #GirlPowered. Thank you to all those who inspire us to redefine the face of STEM.

Lisa Schultz is the Director of Regional Operations at the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation. She applies her previous career experiences as a mechanical engineer and high school science and robotics teacher to provide educators and students with opportunities to develop their STEM skills through competitive robotics. Her passion is providing pathways and reducing roadblocks for young women to explore STEM careers. Lisa received her Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Davis, a Master’s degree in teaching from the University of Maine, and recently completed a Master’s degree in Computer Science at City University of Seattle.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I began my career as a mechanical engineer in California and then transitioned into teaching high school science and robotics in rural Maine. My robotics class was of my favorite classes to teach because the open-ended learning experience engaged students in learning by providing fun opportunities to test their ideas and persevere. I also coached the high school robotics team and the experience inspired me because of how it challenged students and grew their personal and technical skills. I relocated to Seattle in 2016, and I joined the REC Foundation as a Regional Support Manager for the Pacific Northwest. I thought this position would be a great opportunity to apply my engineering and educational background to support other educators looking to integrate competitive robotics in their organization. After three years, I joined the leadership team as the first female Director of Regional Operations and have enjoyed contributing to the direction of the REC Foundation.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

I was invited to be on the VEX Game Design Committee about a year after starting with the REC Foundation. This committee designs the VEX robotics competitions that are released each year and these games are integral to the educational robotics programs. I had several years of experience as a robotics coach where I would work with students to strategize about the games, and this new opportunity gave me the “behind-the-curtain” experience to see how these games are created. The group of people on this committee come from a variety of backgrounds and this experience has given me incredible insight on how to effectively work as a team to accomplish an extremely difficult task in a short period of time. Each year the new game is released the last day of the VEX Robotics World Championship, and my favorite moment was when I was on the arena floor during the game announcement surrounded by thousands of anxious students waiting to hear what the new game would be. The look of excitement and joy on their faces once the game was announced was surreal and nerve-wracking! Even though we think the game is going to be fun for students, there’s always a worry that they won’t like it. This experience has been one of the most challenging but rewarding aspects of my position, and each year I’m continually impressed by how the students take different approaches to play the game.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

About four months after starting with the REC Foundation, I was managing a division at the VEX Robotics World Championship. This was my first time at VEX Worlds and part of that role is ensuring the volunteers have everything they needed. The emcee for that division shared that his throat was getting sore and asked if I would fill up his water bottle with hot water so that he could make some tea to soothe this throat. I was happy to help and quickly filled his new water bottle that he received for being a volunteer. Later that afternoon, the Emcee came over with a big smile and shared that he was thankful for my help, and then shared that the new water bottles had a paper insert and I had forgotten to take it out before I filled up the bottle. We had a great laugh about it at the time, and then a few years later we ended up hiring him. As we were trying to figure out when we first met, I suddenly remembered the water bottle incident. We still laugh at this memory and it’s a great lesson in not sweating the small stuff.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The REC Foundation is committed to providing engaging and accessible opportunities for students to explore and develop their STEM skills through competitive robotics. COVID-19 is affecting the typical learning environments with many students only meeting remotely. I’m very proud of our company for listening to the needs of teachers and students during this challenging time and providing remote opportunities for students to participate. Normally teams would need to attend an in-person event, but this year, students can connect over video to compete. One of the silver-linings of this season is that we will continue to offer a remote competition experience after this season with the goal of increasing the accessibility for rural schools.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am on our Girl Powered program team and our mission is to re-define the face of STEM by providing opportunities for young women. The Girl Powered initiatives focus on addressing the barriers young women face with the goal of increasing their confidence and awareness in STEM fields. My favorite opportunity is our Girl Powered Workshops where young women are invited to Google campuses for a multi-day robotics training. assisted with the workshops at the Seattle Google campus and it was an amazing experience to see young women go from never building a robot before to driving their robot in their first-ever robotics match in just two days. These opportunities are critical to providing a safe and nurturing environment where girls are supported and feel they can succeed.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

There have been improvements in this area, but I still see a lack of women in STEM careers and leadership positions. The focus of change needs to start early to build confidence and problem-solving skills. We tend to compartmentalize STEM in education when STEM can be incorporated in all that we do. By integrating more STEM activities at an early age, we can build confidence in girls and reduce the stigma that STEM requires a special talent rather than skills that can be learned.

I also think more research is needed to identify the roadblocks that contribute to the lack of women entering STEM fields. Many people know this is a problem, but it’s difficult to know what initiatives result in change. I’m a data person and prefer to support initiatives that have been well researched rather than based on anecdotal experiences.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

Women still need to prove themselves more than males to get access to the same opportunities. One particularly frustrating experience for me was when I became the first-ever robotics coach at the high school and needed access to the shop next to my classroom during the competition season. I was told that I would need to get an Industrial Arts certification before I could be allowed to have the access with students even though I had machine shop training and experience. I decided to jump though that hoop and luckily, I only needed to take one online course (ironically unrelated to shop safety) and pass the Industrial Arts certification test over the summer. When I left the school, I heard the school district gave access to the male replacement without this same requirement. It’s difficult to share this story and I appreciate all that the high school did to support me while I was there, but I think it’s important to shed light on these types of situations so they can be addressed.

I have mitigated this challenge in my career by learning how to demonstrate my abilities and earning the respect of my peers, but this issue is prevalent and needs to be addressed on a larger scale. Companies should review their hiring practices and address unconscious gender bias by removing names from resumes to focus on the person’s prior experience and skills. Another tactic is to reflect on our own reactions and behaviors to examine if we would respond the same way if the person was a different gender. This activity can be extremely insightful in identifying the assumptions and differences that our culture has ingrained in all of us.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

A common myth is that women are not interested in STEM careers and that is why we see more men entering these fields. I don’t think all people want to enter STEM fields, but we don’t provide the same opportunities and support to young girls compared to young boys that lead to considering these opportunities. We need to expand how we capture the interest of underrepresented groups by matching the opportunities to the interests of students. Let’s figure out what young girls are interested in and connect STEM learning to those activities rather than trying to fit them into the mold of what we think they should be interested in. Women are curious and intelligent individuals that have a passion for improving the world. By showing how their interests align with STEM fields, we can reveal additional pathways that they may not have known existed.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses.

I am a hard-core introvert and have been my entire life. As an introvert, I am an observer and enjoy studying how people respond. This has helped me approach problems by considering different viewpoints in detail. There are instances where being an introvert has its challenges, though. I feel uncomfortable in large social situations and would rather let others be in the spotlight. I have learned to use being an introvert to provide valuable insights and how to go outside my comfort zone, when needed.

2. Never stop learning.

I love learning and I’m excited to live in a time where knowledge is available at your fingertips. I think this is one of the main reasons I have been successful because I want to learn every detail of my position, and if I don’t understand how something works, then I am determined to figure it out. This trait has helped me gain the confidence and respect of those I work with and I believe good leaders have a deep understanding of all aspects of the organization.

3. Take time to think.

This is a tough one to apply in our fast-paced work environment, but it can be extremely valuable to take time to carefully consider a problem rather than making an impulsive decision. My best ideas usually come to me when I’m on a walk by myself without any distractions. As my responsibilities have increased, I’ve needed to be more intentional about taking breaks. This practice has helped me to take a step back and identify the core issues of a problem, which can get difficult to see when you are right in the middle of a situation. We need to dispel the myth that you need to be at your desk to be working and value careful contemplation.

4. Challenge the norms.

Just because it’s always been that way, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Having a different viewpoint is one of the many benefits of being a woman in STEM, but it can be uncomfortable to challenge the norms, especially if you are surrounded by those that do see a need for change. One strategy that has helped me share my ideas is to communicate them in a way that everyone knows we are on the same team trying to improve together. I research the problem in preparation to support my idea and encourage others to improve upon it.

5. Strive for excellence.

I tend to obsess about ensuring everything I do is done with high quality and excellence. I prioritize the customer experience and strive to ensure every detail has been considered. Excellence does not come easily, and it takes many iterations using feedback from a diverse team.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I recommend that women should solicit constructive feedback to develop their skills from people they trust. Too often we assign a negative connotation to feedback because we are afraid of failure, and it’s common to only hear praise because it can be uncomfortable to share areas of improvement. I have found that there is more hesitation to give constructive feedback to women because they think women may over-react or become emotional. I found this type of reasoning to be counterintuitive and ultimately harmful to the person. I took piano lessons when I was younger, and in each lesson my teacher would identify areas I needed to work on to improve each week. I think everyone would think this is normal, and in fact, it would be weird if the teacher gave me praise for making the same mistakes over and over. Yet, it seems that constructive feedback in the corporate world is infrequent. Incorporating this type of dialogue regularly makes it part of the culture of working as a team to achieve excellence.

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

One of the earliest lessons that I learned about managing a team is to be selective when creating your team and then trust your team to achieve their goals. My career started at Hewlett-Packard as a manufacturing engineer and the first week that I started, they had me read “The HP Way” and this has been one of my favorite books about how to manage people and a business. Hewlett and Packard were adamant about hiring the best people even if it took longer to find them or it would cost more because they knew they could trust them to significantly contribute to the organization. In the same way, it is important to identify the knowledge and skills needed to make your team successful, and then be patient in finding the right people.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to give credit to my parents and all the strong females in my family for their continued support. It’s hard to pick out only one because they all have provided insights that have helped me develop into the person I am today. My mom taught me that it’s okay to challenge gender norms and to pursue what I love even if it doesn’t follow the typical path. When I was very young, she shared a story about how she led the effort to allow girls to wear shorts at school. Before then, they were only allowed to wear skirts, and so this was a radical idea at the time. This experience helped to open my eyes to the gender cultural expectations, and I remember starting to question why certain opportunities were only available or encouraged for specific genders.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I hope my success can be an inspiration to young women who are looking to enter a STEM career. I believe the more female role models that exist will help girls envision a pathway for their future and that someday these pathways will be the norm rather than the exception.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to inspire people to celebrate and support educators on a world-wide scale. This year we have a renewed sense of appreciation for the contributions that teachers make to students, especially those that had to teach remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I believe quality education is one of the key components to addressing disparity, yet it amazes me when I hear schools are under-staffed and under-funded. I didn’t fully appreciate the amount of time, effort, and passion teachers give to their students until I became a teacher. We need to start listening to teachers on what they need to support their students and provide those resources.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

While I was a high school robotics coach, our team came across a TED Talk given by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. She said that we should “teach girls bravery, not perfection” and this resonated with me because I had not realized until that moment how differently we teach girls and boys at a young age. One of the hardest things to teach young women is how to trust their decisions in the absence of certainty. I believe this is a skill that can be learned by giving opportunities to approach problems that have multiple solutions rather than only one correct answer. That is why I am so passionate about educational robotics because when you go to a competition, each team has approached the task with a unique strategy and design. It takes bravery to try and solve a problem that you don’t initially know the answer to, and while I was a teacher, I often observed young women being more hesitant to try something that they were unsure about. The more we expose students to open-ended problems earlier on will help young women gain confidence in themselves to be successful.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet with the U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris, to learn more about the political process and the challenges she overcame to be the first female, first black and first Asian-American vice president. I admire anyone who is willing to undergo the scrutiny and negative atmosphere that is involved with the election process. I would also be extremely interested in her thoughts on how to improve our educational system to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for underrepresented groups.

You can find the Authority Magazine article here.

I’ve enjoyed building things with electronics from an early age. In elementary school, I enjoyed “snap together” circuits and creating simple circuits on breadboards that lit up LEDs or spun a motor. It was so fun to combine electronic parts and watch the circuit come to life. But the real game changer for me was being introduced to microcontrollers in high school. It allowed me to create more sophisticated gadgets by adding intelligent control to my electronics projects. A microcontroller is a single chip that contains all the components of a computer, including a processor, memory, and input/output peripherals. It’s designed to be embedded within a larger system and programmed to perform specific tasks.

I was first introduced to microcontrollers at a weekend robotics program at a community college. We each got a small three-wheeled robot and programmed its microcontroller. We programmed it to zip around on the floor and avoid obstacles with sensors. I loved it! I started a robotics club at my high school and entered the Botball Robotics Competition. The task was to have a small robot pick up foam blocks and deposit them on designated areas of a board on a table. The robot’s microcontroller was programmed in the C programming language, which I didn’t have experience with at the time. There was a learning curve, but it was really fun!

I got a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree with a specialization in digital and computer engineering. I worked as an electrical engineer before founding Sundae Electronics LLC with the mission of creating innovative and useful consumer electronics products for everyday life. I’m passionate about inventing.

I want to encourage kids and students of all ages to learn C programming so they can create their own useful electronics devices and robots! The C language is the most popular programming language in embedded systems! The Arduino is a microcontroller development platform that is popular with beginners and programmed with C syntax and constructs. Since textbooks with traditional code examples can be boring, I wanted to create a book that would have fun C programming examples and be as visually appealing as a nicely illustrated picture book.

I decided to create a unique picture book called A Day in Code - the story is written in code! The code in the book consists of simple C programs that represent situations in a continuous story about a fun-filled day. The full-page illustrations next to the code show the situations. In this way, the book provides code examples that are fun and relatable. It teaches fundamental programming concepts and C syntax. The programs in the book can be run on your computer using a C compiler (there are many free C compilers available online). The book can be found on Amazon and is available for pre-order.

Pre-order A Day in Code here!

Whether you’re a member of a Girl Powered Team, or you’re a Girl Powered Workshop participant this October in honor of International Day of the Girl, our partners at Tallo have a great way for you to share your Girl Powered pride with two available badges.

Tallo is a free online platform and app that students (age 13+) can use to showcase their accomplishments, skills, and goals. Over one million Tallo users get noticed, earn digital badges, and match with scholarships. With available badges for VEX Robotics participants, and now Girl Powered Badges, Tallo offers a great way to take your Girl Powered experience to the next level!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign up for Tallo and create your free profile.  
  2. Get your Girl Powered Digital Badges
    • In the Badges section of your profile, tap the pencil icon to edit the section entries.
    • Enter Girl Powered, and follow the instructions to request your badge.
  3. Get discovered by colleges and companies and figure out the next step for your future. 

Request the Girl Powered Tallo Badge that’s right for you!

  • Girl Powered Team Member
  • Girl Powered Workshop Participant

Be sure to share your Girl Powered experience with us on social media using #GirlPowered and take the Girl Powered Pledge using #WhyIamGirlPowered. Tag @RECFoundation (@REC_Foundation on Twitter) for a chance to be featured!

Click here to learn more about Tallo, and follow them on social media for more updates.

cross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram