Young women working together on computing project at Georgia Tech

BridgeUp STEM Program Connects Young Women to Computing, New Opportunities

The second BridgeUP STEM cohort began their summer learning at Georgia Tech this month. The program provides young women from marginalized backgrounds with access to coding training, code tutorials, and robot programming. The goal, over the next few semesters, is to provide the participants with skills to be researchers as undergraduates.

The College of Computing is hosting 50 high school-aged girls and non-binary students. Fellows came in ready to work and excited for the opportunity.

 “I really enjoy the coding aspect of this program. With coding, you are not defined by the prejudices of society, and I think that’s beautiful,” said Oko Cannigan, an 11th-grader at Benjamin Banneker High School.

“Programs like BridgeUp are important because they make real the promise of a more inclusive future. As society moves toward a reliance on technology, those affected by that technology must be included in its development,” said Constellations Senior Director Tamara Pearson.

The program fosters equity by creating opportunities for students facing financial barriers to a computing degree and career. It also allows the students to learn how computing may be used to address a variety of social problems.

"Students in the program receive a stipend to address any hurdles they may face in program participation —  transportation and food costs, for example,” said Chanteal Edwards,  educational outreach manager for the program. “We also understand that many students need to work summer jobs to help with household costs.”

Skills acquired in this program translate directly to a job as a research assistant. For rising juniors, the training should end at high school graduation.

Last year’s cohort was taught by faculty from the College of Computing, as well as rising Ph.D. students. The program is a partnership between the College of Computing and the National Council for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).