Expanding Your Horizons Conference

The Expanding Your Horizons Conference was held on March 29, 2014. The conference offered a chance for middle-school girls to Image of the conference attendees at the foundryexplore opportunities available to women in STEM careers.

Brianne Stewart, the Cedar Valley EYH Planning Chair said, “The purpose of the conference is to expose local middle school girls to the opportunities available in STEM. Through our workshops, they not only get to see the fun side of STEM careers, they get to work with professionals from the Cedar Valley who have turned their own love of STEM into a career.”  

In total, 73 girls from grades 5th through 8th attended the event. Stewart elaborated, “The girls seemed to really enjoy the conference and the different workshops they participated in. Our workshop hosts were great at engaging the girls and making it enjoyable. We also had very positive feedback from parents, where their daughter may not have been super excited to spend a Saturday doing math and science, but ended up having a lot of fun and loving it.”

This was the first conference hosted in Iowa, but it is a nation-wide program. The conference began with an opening speech given by Tanya Higgins, manager of John Deere Quality & Production Systems. After she spoke, the girls then participated in three workshops throughout the day. Twelve total workshops were offered, and the participants each selected three. The workshops were hosted by local professionals in the STEM fields and by UNI clubs. Also, included in the conference was a network lunch for the girls to sit and talk with the volunteers in an informal setting.

Stewart offered her thoughts on the success of the conference, “We are very excited about how well our first conference went. We could not have done this without the tremendous support from the University of Northern Iowa, and we are already looking forward to making this a yearly event."

The conference was hosted by the Cedar Valley Society of Women Engineers and the University of Northern Iowa. The main sponsors were: John Deere, EPSCoR, MAGMA Technologies and MidWest Contractors. Other sponsors included: VGM, Geater Machining & Mfg, ConAgra, A-TEK Castings, HyVee, Cargill, Carpenter Brothers, AAUW and Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

image of the Expanding Your Horizons entire group