Gianna Beck and Caroline Hyland, seniors at Xavier College Prep, are deeply interested in computer programming and have ambitious desires to put their knowledge toward impacting the world positively.
They were both recently granted the 2019 Arizona Affiliate National Center for Women and Information Technology Award (NCWIT) for Aspirations in Computing (AiC).
NCWIT is a nationwide organization that encourages and supports women’s participation in IT fields through access to networking events, internships, scholarships and jobs. Criteria for the award is based on aptitude and interest in IT and computing, leadership ability, academic history and plans after high school.
Gianna is attracted to computing because she sees the world around her becoming increasingly driven by technology.
“As I dug deeper into engineering as a whole, I became particularly attracted to computing and IT because I felt that the world is only becoming more digitized,” Gianna said.
Both girls are very much focused on addressing problems of the world and believe that they can be significantly curbed through the power of technology.
“Issues that can be addressed through STEM research are new practices in sustainability and eco-friendly alternatives to everyday objects, like cars and houses,” Gianna said. “Localized carbon footprint analysis, sustainable architecture and the creation of cheaper, easier to use biodegradable substances are all areas of interest to me.”
Caroline is interested in biomedical informatics – an intersection of data science and medicine. “I believe that biomedical informatics could help aid in the development of new treatments for current diseases, including cancer, and it could also be helpful in the fight to prevent further illness through key initiatives such as trying to provide clean water to impoverished rural communities,” Caroline said.
Like Caroline, Gianna is also interested in how technology can help bring less fortunate communities the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.
“I am particularly interested in the unequal access to resources, a problem that I believe technology will have a crucial role in solving,” Gianna said. “This could come in the form of getting supplies to remote places by drone, teaching communities tech fundamentals to help boost their economy, or through engineering tactics being applied agriculturally.”
NCWIT is exclusively for women and while they have similar beliefs about the power of technology, Caroline and Gianna differ on the importance of gender in STEM fields.
“I do not believe that it is inherently important that girls are involved in STEM,” Caroline said. “I think it is important that girls have the option to do whatever they want to do, and they have the support to make that dream a reality. It should not matter whether girls want to do art or history or STEM or literature.”
“The new playground and battlefield will be in the digital sphere,” Gianna said. “We as young women will be joining in the formation of this new type of community. Thus, it is vital that girls have a part in shaping this technological aspect so that they can in turn shape the world.”