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Girls GET engineering inspiration at Olympic Heights

It’s not every day 70 girls defying professional odds hear from a member of congress.

But Girl Engineers of Tomorrow got a boost from Congresswoman Lois Frankel at their GET Day at Olympic Heights High’s career academy for engineering.

Girls from Boca middle schools were there: Loggers’ Run, Eagles Landing and Don Estridge High Tech. Olympic Heights engineering and computer science teacher Nimmi Arunachalam started the growing group five years ago.

“She has been a great advocate for women’s rights…proud of her son Ben, a U.S Marine war veteran,” school principal Kelly Burke said to introduce Frankel. The school has a Marine Corps JROTC and the honor guard led the Pledge of Allegiance. The event included speakers including Florida Atlantic University Division of Engineer’s Jessica Hibberd.

T-shirt designer Olivia Santana with Girl Engineers of Tomorrow founder and teacher Nimmi Arunachalam.

“Who’s smarter and better in math?” Frankel asked to a group answer.

“What are you here today?”

Students answered: “To learn about STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math]. “To learn more about engineering as a career. To problem solve.”

“Who was Katherine Johnson?” Frankel asked.

Students knew from the movie “Hidden Figures” that Johnson’s math calculations for NASA led to manned space flights. “A young black woman put a man on the moon. Who wants to put the first woman on the moon?” Frankel said.

Students discussed online chats to counter the Old Boys’ network habit of excluding women in work and school issues. “We just need to support each other,” one student said.

“Why do you think there’s not as many women in STEM” Frankel asked.

Women are discouraged from entering those professions, a student said to applause.

“It’s not a man’s thing. It’s everybody’s thing if you have the drive and desire,” Frankel said.

“I’m counting on you to save the world.”

By Marci Shatzman

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