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CCCC hosts "Tech Like a Girl" workshop

Click to enlarge,  Central Carolina Community College hosted a workshop titled 'Tech Like a Girl' on April 22 at the CCCC Harnett Main Campus in Lillington.

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Central Carolina Community College hosted a workshop titled 'Tech Like a Girl' on April 22 at the ... (more)

05.11.2017College & CommunityCollege General

LILLINGTON - The Central Carolina Community College Engineering Department celebrated Earth Day and international March for Science Day on April 22 in a big way.

Constance Boahn, CCCC Engineering and Information Technologies Department Chair, organized an all-girls STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workshop at CCCC's Harnett Main Campus. The workshop series was called "Tech Like a Girl," which introduces young females to careers in science and engineering. This was the first workshop of that series.

According to Ms. Boahn, research suggests that there is a shortage of qualified workers in these fields and a large pool of talented females available that are not being attracted to fill these rewarding career opportunities. The "Tech like a Girl" theme originates out of LASER-TEC, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in which CCCC participates.

Nine girls from Cumberland, Harnett, Lee, and Wake counties participated in the first "Tech Like a Girl" workshop. The topic of the workshop was "Spectroscopy Using Photonics," which is the science of using a spectrum of colors, like the rainbow, to study matter.

Dr. Yvette Mattley, Principal Applications Scientist at Ocean Optics in Dunedin, Fla., conducted the workshop. Ocean Optics builds spectrometers used in various applications around the globe. She recently developed an educational kit at Ocean Optics, which was used in the workshop, to help teach students how spectroscopy is used to study matter. Spectroscopy application examples include aerial crop analysis, blood disease detection, early detection of cancer cells, homeland security detection of poisonous gases, and many more.

Dr. Mattley first shared her story of becoming a female scientist and how much she enjoyed her career. Then, she lectured about spectroscopy and led the students through some fun, hands-on labs including identifying the make-up of light sources from emission spectra and identifying an unknown plant extract by comparing it to the absorption spectra of two known plant extracts. Many of the parents stayed throughout the workshop and also learned from Dr. Mattley's lecture and labs using the spectroscopy educational kits.

The CCCC Laser Club SPIE/OSA student chapter members helped Dr. Mattley with the workshop. According to the student chapter president, Nickolas Jorgenson, "The chapter members also learned a lot about spectroscopy and career opportunities from Dr. Mattley." Also helping with the workshop were Theresa Gietzen, a previous CCCC Laser and Photonics Technology graduate, now working in engineering at Phononic Devices in Research Triangle Park; Evelyn Overton, a current CCCC Computer Information Technology student; Henrietta Jutson, a Technology teacher at Jack Britt High School, an engineering academy in Fayetteville, who also serves on the CCCC Laser program advisory committee; and Isabelle Karis, a current senior at Jack Britt High School, who plans on attending the CCCC Laser program upon high school graduation.

The workshop, including the kits, was funded through the LASER-TEC grant. LASER-TEC is the Southeast Regional Center for Laser and Fiber Optics Education, established by the National Science Foundation in 2013. The Center is hosted by Indian River State College (IRSC) at the Fort Pierce Campus, and is comprised of community and state colleges, universities, high schools and technical centers, trade associations, and laser and fiber optic (LFO) companies. The mission of LASER-TEC is to develop a sustainable pipeline of qualified laser and fiber optics technicians to meet the industry demand across the southeast region.

The CCCC Laser Club is a highly active student chapter of SPIE and The Optical Society and was a co-sponsor of the event. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and OSA, The Optical Society, are international professional organizations that promote the advancement of science and light technologies through continuing education, research, publication, and professional development. As members of these societies, the students have access to industry professionals, research publications, information about developing technologies, career opportunities, and grants to fund events such as "Tech like a Girl," "Interviewing Essentials," and "Day of Photonics."

Ocean Optics is a pioneer in the evolution of miniature fiber optic spectroscopy and a long-time supporter of spectroscopy and science education. The company provides modular spectroscopy and sensing solutions for diverse applications such as biomedical and life sciences research, agricultural monitoring and food safety, illumination and color measurement, science education, and environmental regulation.

For more information on Central Carolina Community College, visit the college website at www.cccc.edu.