Despite the strides made to encourage girls and young women to pursue majors in the STEM topics of science, technology, engineering and math, the latest studies say that after sophomore year in high school, their interest drops off precipitously.
Ali Golbazi and his colleagues in the Tagliatela College of Engineering are working to change that statistic. Golbazi is active in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a highly regarded national program that develops STEM curriculum for middle and high schools.
UNH is active in local and national efforts to encourage female students to study the STEM topics of science, technology, engineering and math.
UNH, the only PLTW affiliate in the state, trains teachers each summer from across Connecticut. They can become certified to teach seven different engineering and five biotechnology courses. This past summer 28 teachers took part. The curriculum is used in 65 high schools and middle schools in the state and more than 5,000 schools across the country.
Golbazi is passionate about spreading the word that engineering, science, technology and math are exciting fields to study and can lead to fulfilling and fascinating careers. He is so dedicated that he’s spent the last 11 years as UNH’s PLTW coordinator while also tending to his work as professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science and now as the department chair.
“The female population in middle school and high school is very interested, but for some reason during the junior and senior years, they lose interest and consequently engineering colleges lose the pool of talented women who can make excellent engineers,” he said. “We’ve encouraged schools to run conferences just for girls, and we share best practices on how it has been done in other places.”