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BAE’s Women in Technology program accepting applicants

NASHUA – Young women looking for a chance to explore careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields have the opportunity to do so by applying to be a part of BAE Systems’ Women in Technology (WiT) program by Sept. 17.

The endeavor gives local female high school students an opportunity to explore careers of various disciplines during the span of 16 weeks.

Sessions begin on Oct. 8 with an orientation to help them understand what they will be doing for a few months.

Sessions offered through BAE’s program always feature a series of technical rotations, including Software Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Microwave Engineering, Signal Processing, Failure Analysis, Optical Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering.

Program Lead Laurel Skiff, who has served as the program lead for four months and has been involved with WiT for about five years, said officials try to change the content that goes into these modules to give the students more exposure.

The program has partnerships with 16 schools, both public and private, Skiff said.

“We’re not limited to students from just those partner schools,” Skiff said, adding that students from other areas can also apply to get into the program.

Due to the popularity of the program, Skiff said they typically have more applicants than slots. The program can accommodate up to 24 students.

Skiff said of the program, “It really helps with personal development. I’ve seen a lot of the girls get more clarity in terms of choosing a major.”

She said the students also develop a professional network and camaraderie, as well as get a leg up on technical skills and ultimately for their career.

“We have a responsibility as a large company, as one of New Hampshire’s top employers, to facilitate programs that increase access for women,” Skiff said.

She added, “Women are underrepresented and it takes partnerships like these to make these programs accessible.”

In addition, organizers host a panel discussion with the girls and women who are currently working in STEM jobs who share their experience.

Skiff said during the summer, they had 10 interns who were graduates of WiT.

“WiT not only provides students with an advantage when they’re in high school, but also as they are starting with their careers,” Skiff said.

In an op-ed from New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut supporting the program, he said he attended a WiT program graduation in May.

“This is an innovative and intensive program offering female high school students with an aptitude for math and science a unique opportunity for practical, hands-on experience in engineering and other technical disciplines,” Edelblut stated.

Edelblut said last year, two schools gave credit to the students who completed the WiT program.

Edelblut encouraged all participating New Hampshire schools to give the students the option to earn credit.

“We should reward the students who seek out new ways to build on their education outside the classroom,” Edelblut stated.

“The WiT program is a tremendous opportunity for New Hampshire girls to turn their love of science into hands-on, high-tech experience. And that’s the sort of educational innovation that will lead them to bright futures,” he later added.

The program is set to run from October until February.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243 or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.