Females in Technology legacy shines in latest conference

April 25, 2012

When Megan Jackson first attended a conference highlighting opportunities for women in technology, she was impressed by the opportunities and organizations she never knew existed.

Nearly a half-decade later, she's hoping some high school students she took to the conference received the same lessons as well.

Jackson, a senior at Indiana State University who is student-teaching this semester at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, chaperoned a group of students to the FiT for the Future conference this month at ISU, which was organized by the university's Females in Technology organization. At the conference, students from nearly a dozen Indiana high schools participated in a variety of activities to learn more about technology before networking with professional women in different technical fields.

"I think it was really cool because I got to come and see how things work," said Tiffany Means, a junior at Terre Haute South Vigo High School who attended the conference with Jackson. Means said the two workshops she attended were fun. "Both times I didn't get to work with two of my closest friends that came with me, I had to work with someone else, and so it was cool because I got to talk to them, and I met someone new."

Jackson first attended the FiT for the Future conference while in high school, and in learning more about FiT and the College of Technology, she decided to attend Indiana State. She became an active member of the group, even serving as president, and she helped organize past conferences.

So now as a student-teacher, it only made sense for her to introduce high school students to the same lessons.

"I think it's important because they don't know what's out there," Jackson said. "A lot of the high school students, some of them don't even have technology programs at their schools. This gives them a chance to see what's out there, and what kind of people are out there, that it's all not just a male-dominated field."

The conference workshops covered a wide range of topics, from human resources to robotics to learning about aviation and flying in ISU's airplane simulator.

"I really liked the flight," said Susan Brown, another student at Terre Haute South. "I got interested because I realize it's not just ‘I'm going to fly a plane.' There're a lot of other things you have to do to be able to go anywhere."

The number of students attending the conference has steadily grown, Jackson said. She remembered that nearly 70 students attended the inaugural event, while about 120 students attended this month's conference.

Workshop offerings have also expanded to include a variety of other areas.

"A lot of times, girls don't sign up or choose to come because they don't want to be part of technology," Jackson said. "They think something of technology that it's not. We're starting to introduce new things, like interior designing, and the techno fashion show is new this year, so they'll get to see aspects of technology that they might not have thought were technology."

The students also enjoyed the different opportunities they had to network with a dozen professionals in different fields, said Molly Joseph, a sophomore technology and engineering education major from Paris, Ill.

"If the students do major in an area in the College of Technology, it helps show that they can be successful out in the real world," said Joseph, who helped organize the conference. "It also helps just for them to ask questions about (the professionals') jobs, because a lot of people don't know about a lot of technology and engineering jobs out there, so that's also helpful just to try to encourage them to maybe take on a technology or engineering major."

In addition to organizing the conference, FiT members led many of the workshops and provided additional advice to high school students during lunch and networking opportunities.

"The students in Females in Technology do a great job of introducing young women to the world of possibilities that exist in technology and engineering fields," said Bradford Sims, dean of the College of Technology. "They also provide tremendous examples to show how students can excel and reach their goals through the educational opportunities available here at ISU."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/FiT-for-the-Future-2012/i-kkJ8Gnj/0/L/041112FiT-for-the-future-6811-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)High school students attending the FiT for the Future conference participate in a workshop. About 120 students from more than 10 schools attended the conference, which was organized and hosted by the ISU student organization Females in Technology.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/FiT-for-the-Future-2012/i-PzZwj2t/0/L/041112FiT-for-the-future-6856-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Indiana State University student Molly Joseph, right, works with two others during a workshop at the FiT for the Future conference this month. Joseph is a member of Females in Technology, the ISU student organization that organized the conference.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/FiT-for-the-Future-2012/i-T4GFSxb/0/L/041112FiT-for-the-future-7011-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Megan Jackson

Contact: Bev Bitzegaio, director of outreach and student career support, College of Technology, Indiana State University, 812-237-3575 or bev.bitzegaio@indstate.edu

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Megan Jackson, a senior student teaching at Terre Haute South this semester, chaperoned students to the FiT for the Future conference, which she attended as a student. She learned more about technology and ISU and helped organize it as part of FiT.

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