Students learn about attainable technology
15 students learn to combine technology and fashion in a PCC Sylvania workshop
Engineers. Programmers. Designers. Creators of products. Makers of things. Inventors of solutions. These are a few of the avenues a group of 15 primarily Latina girls were encouraged to pursue by a panel of local technology professionals last week. They sat around tables at Portland Community College's Sylvania campus and listened as they were told that whatever their interest, it has a place.
This panel was a product of the first ever wearable tech workshop, a week-long camp led and created by Gregg Meyer, a member of the engineering faculty at PCC. The camps basis was to teach high school students (and one middle-schooler) how to combine technology and clothing in a time when wearable tech is growing ever popular.
Giving them the opportunity to see how things work and to see how to integrate software and electronics and physical things. Thats the trilogy right there, Meyer said. If theyre going to be successful and if theyre going to pursue careers in engineering or any kind of technology, theyre going to have to grab the bull by the horns.
This really is about getting them enthused. About giving them some tools, encouragement, exposing them to other people that have gone through it.
While most of the girls were interested in a facet of technology, clothing design or both, many hadnt actually had the chance to pursue their interests to see if they could be potential career paths. Perhaps they fix things around the house, modify their clothing or play video games, but theyd never actually had the chance to take it further and learn where these interests could take them in the future.
You can do a lot of things (with technology), said Paola Michi, a Sunset High School sophomore. You can see parts of the world just by looking things up. You can do anything, basically. Thats interesting to me.
Entering the camp, Michi was interested in both the technological and wearable aspects of the field. By the end, however, she realized she was actually more interested in technology than anything. Had she not been part of the workshop, it may have been years before she had the chance to figure that out about herself.
You dont have to know what youre doing at all, you just have to follow what youre interested in, said Susanna Hohmann, a panelist from Portland-based Terrazign. Failure is extremely important, especially when youre building something or making something. You are going to make mistakes, and the best thing you can do is just learn.
During the camp, the participants learned how to sew and create a bracelet that lit up upon the completion of a circuit, program sweatshirts to be temperature-sensitive and light up in the dark, create jewelry using 3D printers and make safety goggles with light-emitting diode bulbs. They were able to not only learn these things exist, but that theyre accessible even to a high school girl with limited programming knowledge.
This is more closely related to my passion and what I wanted to do, said McKenna Nguyen, a Tigard High School junior who also attended a more robotics-focused PCC camp earlier this summer. Im more into the creative stuff drawing, writing, making.
And unlike her robotics camp, the wearable tech workshop gave Nguyen a chance to utilize a variety of her passions. The same was true for Maria Lopez Ortiz, an Aloha High School junior.
(The workshop) gave me a lot to think about. Many things that we started to work on, I never knew about. Its interesting to watch it all work, Lopez Ortiz said, mentioning that shes always been curious about how and why things work the way they do, and that the camp piqued her interest further. The most important thing? Everything, actually. I stay home a lot I have to take care of my brother and I have school so I really dont get out a lot. Everything I learned is just going to be great memory and probably my future career.
Whatever fields the girls plan on going into, the workshops intention was to give them skills and knowledge to benefit them in the future regardless of their various paths. At its core, the idea was to show them that whatever they want to do, they are fully capable of getting there.
Its more like changing their perspective of learning from the idea of, Im not good at it to, Im not good at it, yet. That way, they realize that, Its not a skill that I have right now, but its a skill that I can learn, said Reg Holmes, one of the workshop leaders and a PCC electronics instructor. Anything is learnable.
Creators of products. Makers of things. Inventors of solutions. Wherever the 15 wearable tech workshop participants end up, theyll know that if they choose to, they can be all of these things.Add a comment