The Women in Technology and Science (WITS) Day will be held virtually this year on Friday, May 7. WITS is a major bi-annual event sponsored by Ohio University Lancaster, the Ohio University Pickerington Center, and surrounding community businesses and organizations. This year, sponsors include Midwest Fabricating, Scott’s Miracle-Gro, and Stars Consulting LLC.
WITS is a one-day, hands-on free STEM program for middle and high school students who are interested in math, science, engineering, and other technology careers. The purpose of WITS is – through education, enlightenment, and inspiration – to encourage young students to pursue an education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Additional funding will be provided this year by The Regional Higher Education Workforce Success Initiative. The WITS Committee and Ohio University Lancaster received the $5,000 award for event expenses, to include a pilot study with Fairfield County high school students, and to develop a video series about STEM careers. Nicole Pennington, Regional Higher Education Executive Dean and Dean of Campus and Community Relations at OHIO Southern, developed the RHE Workforce Success Initiative in an effort to enhance workforce development activity in southeast Ohio and surrounding areas served by RHE. WITS Day Co-Chairs are Pamela Kaylor, Ph.D. and Jacqueline Tudor, Ph.D.
“This financial award came at a very good time for our virtual conference,” says Pamela Kaylor, Co-Chair and Communication Studies Professor. “WITS has been a thriving program since Jane Johnsen started it in 1991. We have had many past WITS participants inspired to pursue and be successful in STEM Careers – some return to be speakers. A small group of dedicated and passionate OU faculty and staff plan this event biannually on a small budget and we are so excited to have some additional funds to enhance the program.”
For WITS 2021, Ohio University Lancaster has invited 350 middle school students and 210 high school students to attend WITS workshops for the day. Many volunteers and about 20 STEM professionals create engaging and inspiring opportunities to learn about careers in chemistry, engineering, biology, architecture, computer science, physics, math, police science, and environmental archaeology. The general sessions this year will include presentations about zoology by the Columbus Zoo, Astronomy and Chemistry Shows by The Works, and a presentation by “Rock Star of Engineering and Science” Dr. Karen Panetta, Dean at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tufts University. Dr. Panetta was awarded the nation’s highest U.S. award for STEM education in 2011 by the President and is the founder of the international Nerd Girls program. She is the recipient of other awards and several research grants by NASA and the National Science Foundation.##