Reinvented Magazine: Issue No. 1

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TEAM CREDITS Editor in Chief Caeley Looney


Natalie Hahn


Erin Mitchell


Lavanya Sharma

Writing Directors Alice Ao Aparna Rajesh Vilina Mehta


Madeline Feigles Peyton Paulson


Anna Li Daniela Markazi Elizabeth Chwialkowski Rachel Weeks


Abigail Johnson Emily Miller Erin Robinson Madeleine Salem Max Evans Rachell Frank Ria Vora Sara Kazemi


Christina Chen Elaine Zheng Hariti Patel Kajol Bhat Jocelin Su

Ask Gloria

Gloria Kimbwala


Issue No. 1 August 2019 In 2018 recent college graduate Caeley Looney realized the need for a magazine geared towards women in STEM. After recognizing the fact that a vast majority of media today focuses on makeup, fashion, and celebrities for young girls, Caeley set out to create a magazine that focuses on her passions: science, technology, engineering, and math. Thus, the idea for Reinvented Magazine was born. After pitching the idea to the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Facebook Group and receiving a tremendous response, a team of like-minded young women from all across the nation was formed and the project kicked off. The next year was full of exciting achievements and firsts for Reinvented Magazine, including a fully-funded Women You Should Fund crowdfunding campaign, exclusive interviews, achieving 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and, of course, printing their first issue. While most people know that there is a lack of women in STEM fields, most don’t understand how real this issue is. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. That’s why our founder urges that, “in order to see a change in the professional world, we need to start at the beginning by showing our daughters, sisters, and friends female role models in STEM fields at a young age.” Reinvented Magazine does exactly that. Our mission is to reinvent the general perception of women in STEM fields while inspiring interest in STEM for young women nationwide. From sharing the stories and experiences of groundbreaking ladies in the field to reporting the latest news in science and technology, we hope to pave the way for future generations of women to become leading pioneers of STEM. We also want to ensure that everyone has access to our content, including girls in lowincome and rural areas without consistent access to computers. That’s why we set up our One-for-One program which allows us to donate one magazine for every one magazine bought. The general notion of science, technology, engineering, and math as being predominantly masculine fields is something that has needed to change for a long time now, but there is only one way to truly change something - you need to reinvent it.

Ruthe Farmer

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DIY Section

Beauty and the Bolt

Special Thanks

Danniell Hu Wogrammer Women You Should Fund




Reinvented Magazine






Foreword Welcome to Reinvented Magazine, and congratulations for being one of the trend-setting readers to pick up this revolutionary new publication! You are definitely on to something. Over the last year, I’ve had the distinct privilege of watching Reinvented grow from a spark of an idea, to a collaborative project, to a full-fledged organization and crowd-funding success. The story of Reinvented Magazine is a story of community and sisterhood. It is a story of young women banding together around a shared passion for STEM, and a desire to share that passion with the next generation of women engineers. July 22, 2018 founder and editor-in-chief Caeley Looney posted the following comment in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing online community for young women in tech, engineering and STEM: There should be a magazine, like Seventeen, that focuses specifically on women in STEM, instead of just what celebs are up to, while giving fashion and college advice. But also gives info on new cool tech stuff, women’s initiatives and conferences, and all that jazz. I would buy that magazine. The response was immediate. 227 comments and 253 likes and reactions in a matter of hours. With that ad hoc market research supporting the idea, Reinvented Magazine was born. Through my work in STEM education I’ve had a front row seat to the lives of thousands of young women traveling the path to a career in STEM for two decades. In that time, I’ve become more and more convinced that sense of belonging is the key to solving the gender equity challenge in STEM. Like all beings, young women in STEM yearn to be part of a community, to connect with others that share their interests, and to see real women like them struggle, strive and succeed. They long to be included and inspired. A sense of belonging is what Reinvented Magazine aims to provide, through community, connections, and inspiration - to reinvent the perception of women in STEM fields, while inspiring interest in STEM for young women nationwide. There is a phrase used among Girl Scout leaders - “It takes a leader to teach a girl not to follow.” I’m thrilled to be passing the torch to this inspiring group of young women engineers and technologists taking on the gender gap in STEM. They are clearly stepping up to be leaders, role models, and disruptors. I can’t wait to see what they do next. I’m looking forward to reading the first issue, and many more to come. I know you are too.

Ruthe Farmer is a national advocate for equity and inclusion in STEM. She is currently Chief Evangelist at CSforALL, served as Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion under President Obama, and has been rabble-rousing for women and girls in STEM fields since 2001 through roles at the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT), Girl Scouts of the USA, and more. She has launched and scaled multiple national programs for girls in STEM including the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community that became the incubator of this magazine. She lives in Colorado and works wherever United Airlines can take her. Follow her on Twitter @RutheF.


Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, I’m not sure if you could tell or not, but I’m pretty new to this Editor in Chief thing. I’ve been struggling for a little while to find the right words to put in this letter, but after watching a few episodes of The Office, the ever so inspirational Michael Scott helped me overcome my writer’s block. He reminded me that it’s not always about finding the right words; sometimes it’s simply about being fearless and just making your voice heard. So, here I am, using my voice. I think that just about everyone could tell you that there aren’t as many women in STEM fields as there are men. Women are rarely considered the kind of people who should be rocket scientists, roboticists, or doctors. Yet, we are doing just that. Our contributions are often left out of the story, and the result of writing women out of history is this lack of role models for the next generation of girls aspiring to be scientists, engineers, or mathematicians. Slowly but surely, the female voice is being heard, and I’m using mine to amplify their impact. I think that Michael Scott said it best: “you have no idea how high I can fly.” And it’s true -- the world doesn’t know how high women can fly, because we have rarely been given the opportunity or recognition. Reinvented is going to help change that. This magazine has been in the works for well over a year now, and, like anything else in life, it has had its ups and downs. We’ve been stressed over meeting deadlines, inspired by the amazing women we’ve interviewed, and, at the very end of it all, proud that we were able to pull it off. Over the past two months it has become increasingly clear that our content isn’t just wanted, it’s needed. I started this project just hoping that I’d make a magazine I’d actually enjoy reading on my days off, but it’s blossomed into so much more than that. We are now playing a part in laying the foundation for normalizing the way society views women in STEM fields. Our magazine is illuminating the untold stories of incredible women in tech, showcasing role models for the next generation of girls just starting to get excited about STEM, and assuring those already in college and the workforce that they aren’t alone. Through all of that, we’ve had you. I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve given our team and this magazine. Though stereotypical, it’s true: we couldn’t have done this without you. As you flip the page and begin reading our articles, I hope you start to feel a sense of belonging. Whether it’s relating to the stories told in our Everyday Changemakers series or being reminded of the amazing things women can do when they bravely take on new opportunities, I hope you find a bit of yourself amongst our pages. My final hope is that this magazine empowers you to keep pushing into STEM fields and to continue pursuing your dreams, whatever they may be. One thing I’ve learned while putting this first issue together is that us girls are unstoppable, but we first need the confidence to realize that. So, let me ask you this: how high can you fly? To Infinity & Beyond,

Caeley Looney Editor in Chief P.S. Hi Mom!










7 Open Style Lab:

Removing Stigma from Style


15 Everyday Changemakers

Capturing the Big Picture of What it Means to be a Woman in STEM, with Megan SmithÂ

49 Holdette: Fashion Meets Function

58 Ask Gloria

27 50 Years in the Making: A Return to Human Spaceflight

Photo Credit: CSforAll

39 DIY: Chladni Plate

In memory of Bob and Alberta Hahn

2016 Team Q members (from left to right): Quemuel Arroyo, Kailu Guan, and Cheng Cheng Zhao. This team created a rain jacket for seated users.




The Open Style Lab team preparing for a photo shoot.

Imagine this: the familiar screeching of your morning alarm pierces the air, disrupting your peaceful slumber. You drowsily turn it off, half-heartedly drag yourself out of bed, and make your way to the bathroom to get ready for the day. You pull a t-shirt over your head, trade your pajama bottoms for a pair of jeans, and slip on your favorite shoes — all in five minutes tops. It’s a scene that, for most of us, is fairly commonplace. I mean, changing in and out of clothes is a fairly hassle-free task, right? Wrong. Well, at least for people with disabilities. The ability to perform seemingly menial tasks like getting dressed or swiping a MetroCard is a privilege that many able-bodied people take for granted. People with disabilities, ranging from paralysis to autism to muscle spasms, struggle with these things every single day. So, in a world designed for the abled, how can the disabled go about their days with as little inconvenience as possible? Open Style Lab (OSL) has the answer: technology-based adaptive clothing. Open Style Lab creates tools to make this adaptive clothing, with the intention to hack and to empower. Adaptive clothing is clothing that is designed to be both wearable and functional for the disabled and elderly. But Open Style Lab’s mission isn’t just to create functional garments for their clients - they also set out to make their designs stylish.


STYLE IS A FORM OF SELF-EXPRESSION Unfortunately, a lot of adaptive clothing produced in the past hasn’t kept aesthetics in mind, which Grace Jun, Executive Director of Open Style Lab, believes “lessens the integrity” of the clothes. Style is one of the primary ways people choose to express themselves, so why should the elderly, those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (AS), or others with disabilities be deprived of that? This sentiment is the reason why one of the most important aspects of Open Style Lab’s mission is to create adaptive clothing that “doesn’t compromise on style.” They work with their clients closely, keeping them heavily involved in the design process of their custom clothing, to ensure that each person can feel confident in saying that the clothes they wear truly represent who they are.

WEAVING IN DIVERSITY, STITCHING IN TECHNOLOGY Open Style Lab’s mission is largely rooted in promoting diversity and inclusion, in regard not only to the people they serve, but also to the people they choose to represent them. Jun believes that OSL expresses its belief in diversity by having an inclusive attitude during the hiring process. “Diversity can’t really be defined — it speaks for itself,” Jun thoughtfully remarked. “We have people from all different races and abilities such as design, occupational therapy, and engineering that we hire as team members, ambassadors, or volunteers.” OSL’s team is also predominantly women, a fact that Jun thinks is very significant, as “women face a lot of barriers, especially in STEM-related fields.”


It speaks for itself.

Founders Grace Jun (left) and Christina Mallon-Michalove (right).

The fact that Open Style Lab’s clothing is technology-based can be easily masked by their stylish facades - but there is a reason OSL offers a variety of engineering fellowships focusing on subjects ranging from material sciences to body scanning to 3D-printing. “We don’t just look at clothes,” Jun clarified. “We also look at things that relate to technology and [how those can] enable the design. So whether it’s making 3D-printed accessories or looking at the fiber structure of the material itself, there’s different ways engineers can be engaged.” Open Style Lab believes that 3D printing is an integral tool for universal custom designing and has frequently experimented with 3D printing projects. One such project is a creation made for Christina Mellon, one of OSL’s co-founders and its current Digital Marketing Director. Mellon has ALS and paralysis in both her arms, making swiping a MetroCard quite a difficult task. To combat this, one of OSL’s research fellows, Julia Liao, designed a 3D-printed MetroCard-holding necklace that Mellon could use to swipe her card with. As reported by the New York Times, the necklace “has magnets that attach to the card reader and set the card in place, as well as tiny wheels that make it easy to push through the reader using momentum created by [the] sideways movement.”


Open Style Lab has also worked with a collaborator who is paralyzed from the chest down. To make the task of getting ready in the morning easier for her, designer Jonathan Hayden fashioned a jumpsuit with unique features, such as tabs that can be pulled to help the jumpsuit up her legs, and a wrap top that the client can put on herself. Hayden and his client conferred closely with each other throughout the design process, with Hayden using augmented reality technology to share the jumpsuit’s progress with her.

DESIGNING A BETTER FUTURE It’s safe to say that, despite how much more open-minded society has become, a stigma surrounding disabilities still exists. Open Style Lab works to change this negative perception of disabilities by “removing stigma through style and through making things that are collectively inclusive.” Stigma can never truly be eradicated without being exposed to, learning about, and understanding the struggles of those who are being stigmatized. The inclusivity exhibited by OSL’s clothing is not only achieved by the great minds on OSL’s design teams, but between the team and their clients. The entire design process has been described by Jun as being very “human-centric,” as OSL seeks to know their customers on a deeper, more personal level. By working with people with disabilities, the designers at Open Style Lab are able to understand firsthand how someone’s experiences with being disabled can shape an innovative design.


removing stigma through style and through making things that are collectively inclusive.

The purpose of technology, at its very core, is to improve the human lifestyle. And sometimes, creating the most innovative or impactful pieces of technology is simply a matter of learning how to empathize with people; being able to collaborate with them; listening to their diverse ideas, inputs, and stories; and broadening your own scope of knowledge. Grace Jun’s final message to our readers is this: “Question what you think technology means. Understand its implications and look at tech holistically. Don’t look at it as just an easy service for an extra enhancement - really examine if it’s giving something to this world… try to relate and give back to the technology you engage with [and] use your personal experiences to define what technology means to you.”

OSL program participants and creators.

Open Style Lab is a former MIT-based public service project that became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2014.



AIHACKS: SO CAL’S FIRST AND ONLY ALL-GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL HACKATHON On the weekend of June 15 and 16, 2019 the USC Institute for Creative Technologies hosted a 28-hour hackathon with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI). This event was comprised of 100 participants, mainly from southern and central California, who formed 26 teams of 2 to 4 members working together in an attempt to use AI to solve real-world problems. A hackathon typically involves creative problem solving over varying lengths of time which range from a couple of hours to a long weekend. These events often involve people coming together, hosting workshops related to the theme of the event to share knowledge, and tackling problems. Founded by Emily Jin, a rising senior at North Hollywood High School, AIHacks is different from all other hosted in Southern California in that the participants were all high school females. Jin is passionate about empowering women from her school to explore the computer science field, and creating AIHacks was her way of sharing these passions with the community.

Program participants working hard on their projects as the deadline approaches.

The last of the overall prizes went to StrayPaws, which is a website designed for users to upload information about stray dogs they have seen and reconnects the dogs with the owners who have lost them. The website utilized AI to match the information about the strays with the information from the owners. Aside from the top 3 prizes in the overall categories, two additional honors, Best Use of Artificial Intelligence and the Social Impact Prize, were awarded to the two teams which best fit the theme of the hackathon.

AIHacks event organizers (from left to right): Annelise Eileraas-Liu, Lavanya Sharma, Emily Jin, Charissa Kim, and Samantha Soto.

AIHacks might have been a competition, but it also provided the participants with a safe space to grow their knowledge base through various workshops including introductions to Python, HTML/CSS, and Android App development. These workshops allowed participants to actively contribute to their team regardless of their technical background.

Hackathons are a phenomenal way to enhance your technical Each team was tasked with implementing AI into their own skills and gain experience in the engineering field as a whole. To Android app or an HTML website. In both instances, the teams learn more about AIHacks, you can visit their website at had to address real-world issues they were passionate about, including mental health awareness, safety, and disease. The first-place award and prizes were given to Alley Alert, a website designed to provide users with routes deemed as safe in order to give them a sense of security when traveling alone. Users give ratings to streets based on their perceived safety, and can view the ratings from other users to determine the safest route before beginning their journey. Second place went to a website called Rose, which helped writers overcome writer's block by encouraging users to generate large quantities of text, and motivating them with graphics that grow as their character count increases.


Participants taking a much needed break from working as the night goes on.


Hana Gabrielle Bidon with a statistic regarding minority women in science and engineers.

EMBRACE ALL KINDS OF MINDS: NEURODIVERSITY IN TECH When it comes to diversity, people in the tech industry often discuss race and gender. However, less attention is given to neurodiversity, a concept that embraces the variety in different kinds of minds, especially those with neurological conditions such as autism and ADHD. Although companies ask applicants to disclose their disability status and promise to provide equal opportunities, it leaves me wondering how they treat neurodivergent people in the workforce. As an autistic woman with ADHD, I am affected by these problems. When I reveal to people that I’m autistic, they usually say that I don’t look autistic and immediately compare me to someone else’s autistic relative or friend, which is inappropriate and degrading to both parties. They also usually say that I am highfunctioning, which is a backhanded compliment.


Though I want to be polite, I often think that I should have confronted these comments by explaining how autism affects each individual differently. More specifically, autism can affect a person’s sensory processing and how a person socializes or navigates the world. To me, autism is best described as a nonlinear spectrum with different categories of symptoms, such as executive function, emotional regulation, social interaction, speech, and motor skills. There are nonverbal autistic people, and they should not be pressured to express themselves verbally. Furthermore, labels like "high-functioning" and "lowfunctioning," and levels like "mild autism,” "moderate autism," and "severe autism," do not accurately describe the impact of autism on an individual. Rather, such terms invalidate the autistic person's needs, whether they need minimal or substantial support.

While I make my best effort to appear neurotypical in public, it is exhausting to act “normal” every day and not be my authentic self. I feel like I must mask my symptoms of ADHD and autism to be accepted, leaving me emotionally and mentally tired. For the past year and a half, I have learned to accept my stimming, which is short for self-stimulatory behavior. With regards to an autistic person, stimming generally refers to specific behaviors, such as hand-flapping, spinning, rocking, or pacing. Personally, I stim because pacing back and forth comforts me when I am bored, stressed, or happy. For instance, I stim by walking back and forth for at least 20 minutes, wherever I am, while listening to instrumental music from YouTube on repeat or while talking to myself about my summer research. During moments like these, it feels as if I am being driven by a motor and constantly must move around in my surroundings, making sitting still an impossible task. Although I can sit still for longer periods of time, my ADHD makes me hyperactive. My attempts to disclose my needs for support have not been too successful. When I found myself particularly distracted while working on an assignment with my Computer Science (CS) partner in a loud setting, I confided in him about my ADHD. I expected that he would suggest moving to a quieter study space to work on our assignment, but was disappointed when he told me to just concentrate harder instead. I was already trying my hardest to focus, and I was completely overstimulated by my external environment and my thoughts, so it was difficult to express my frustration with his lack of understanding. From that point on, I tried to act like I had not disclosed one of my disabilities to him and instead attempted to finish the CS assignment. This experience taught me that it’s in my best interest not to disclose my disabilities to other people, especially those who I don’t know well, because, as a result, I may be treated differently.

It is exhausting to act "normal" every day and not be

my authentic self. Maintaining friendships is arduous for me as well. Social interaction with my peers does not come to me easily since I don’t quickly pick up subtle and nonverbal social cues from conversations. For example, maintaining eye contact in a conversation is a constant struggle. I often feel terrified of staring into another person’s eyes and become self-conscious after constantly reminding myself to look at them.


I also get lost in social situations; when I am talking with a group of people, I don’t know when to contribute to the group and when to let others speak. To me, talking in a group feels like a competition for who speaks up most--and I must win it. However, through therapy sessions, I have learned that it is not always necessary to contribute to a group conversation if I’m not interested in the content. Though I try my best to manage my ADHD with medications, therapy, and finding other people like me through Facebook groups such as Ladies Storm Hackathons or Women of Rewriting the Code, it feels lonely not having someone in person who can relate to my problems. To remedy this, I have been working to expand my social life by actively meeting new people through clubs like Cornell Minds Matter (CMM) and Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC). CMM strives to increase awareness about mental health on campus, while WICC focuses on making computing inclusive for all by fostering a supportive community of women and allies. People in both clubs have accepted me for who I am and do not undermine my struggle with being neurodivergent; in fact, they have embraced it. Not only am I feeling more mentally stable by following my treatment plan, I am also living life through my ups and downs as well as connecting with friends, both old and new.




Selina Tobaccowala, Co-Founder of Evite (acquired by Ticketmaster) and current Founder of Gixo - a fitnessbased startup.


Selina Tobaccowala was destined for that Silicon Valley life. Not the HBO version that may come to mind, with flashy cars and inflated term sheets. But a more genuine, authentic version about a woman passionate about STEM from a young age, using technology to change the world.

This mentorship taught Selina the importance of diverse and representative teams, and how they not only impact culture but can build more meaningful products. Those leadership skills are proving very valuable as Selina is back at the helm of leading her own company.

“For me tech was always something I was excited by, something I was interested in from a young age. My father worked in tech and had sparked my interest really early.” From that early age both her parents played a big role in encouraging her interests in STEM, her mom driving her to summer camps and computer science clubs all around New Jersey.

An entrepreneur at heart, in 2016 Selina left the comfort of big tech companies to embrace the startup life again. In founding Gixo, she combines her deep expertise in bringing communities together with a passion to create healthier fitness habits.

Selina realized early on how technology could be used to impact people’s lives in real ways. While completing her BS in Computer Science at Stanford, she co-founded Evite, having the foresight to see how tech can bring people and communities together (almost a decade before the major social networks came around!) As VP of Engineering at Evite, she learned how to utilize her talents and deep understanding of technology to create a tool used by millions of people. This became an important skill that Selina carried with her to all her future roles. Moving along her STEM journey, Selina continued to develop her passion and skills at Ticketmaster and SurveyMonkey, where the late Dave Goldberg, then CEO, was an influential mentor for her. “Dave was an amazing mentor and leader. He prioritized building a highly profitable business right alongside building a culture that supported diversity and families.”


“What got me excited about Gixo was getting people interested in real fitness experiences. Lots of investment has gone into programs and products for wealthy people. What about everyone else?” In reflecting on her career in tech, her focused nature and genuine interest shielded her from some of the gender disparities. “In retrospect, I must have been one of the only females. It didn't occur to me then. It was just something I looked forward to and was happy doing.” However, upon moving to Silicon Valley in the mid-90s, that perspective changed.


But a more genuine, authentic version about a woman passionate about STEM from a young age, using technology to change the world.


It wasn’t until I was well into my CS degree that I noticed I was one of the only women. I didn’t think I was affected by the fact that there were very few women at the time. It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized the negative impact of it being a male dominated industry.”

Bringing more women and girls into the tech industry is a cause Selina cares deeply about. She has experienced firsthand how tech can be used to change people’s lives and is a strong advocate for encouraging more women to be part of this change.

Though for some she may seem to fly under the radar, Selina is clearly and powerfully setting an example for young girls and women interested in making a meaningful impact with technology. She is the ultimate ‘poster child’ of Silicon Valley, using tech to change real people’s lives and is doing what women are often told they can’t do - raise a lot of money, start big companies and lead powerful teams.

“What I have really been dedicating time to is I’m on the diversity committee for Stanford School of Engineering. How do we make change at that level.”

Adding to that, Selina channels her expertise as a board member of Redfin and on the Advisory Board of Hubspot, two publicly traded companies. Boards are another arena where we have seen how increasing diversity leads to positive impact on outcomes.


Selina’s advice for anyone interested in STEM is to take risks and try new things.




Give it a shot. This story was written by Wogrammer for Reinvented Magazine’s inaugural issue. Read more stories of diverse and inspiring women in STEM at



Lynn Conway in her office at Xerox-PARC in 1977, about to launch the VLSI revolution.

REFLECTIONS ON PRIDE: AN INTERVIEW WITH LYNN CONWAY Lynn Conway, trans woman and activist, is a computer scientist whose contributions were instrumental in Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) innovations. The creation of this technology triggered the tech revolution in Silicon Valley. Her story, however, has not been brought to light until recently. In 2012, Conway became the investigative storyteller of her own impact on Silicon Valley. During her research, Conway coined the “Conway Effect” in her article The Disappeared, Beyond Winning and Losing. The Conway Effect is a trend in which the innovations created by ‘others’ are lost in the stories told in the aftermath. In this context, ‘others’ are people who are not expected by society’s biases to be the ones leading innovation. Instead, the work is generally attributed to a ‘known innovator,’ at least until the hidden story is unveiled. The Conway Effect began to take hold when George Gilder


wrote Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Marriage. His retelling of events cast Conway as an assistant, and Carver Mead as the sole innovator. Conway’s article exists not as a lament for the stories lost, but instead as a celebration of the work Conway has done -- not only in innovations instrumental to Silicon Valley, but also in the investigation she has conducted to contextualize her own experiences. In an interview with Lynn Conway she stated that she is “having fun with [her] journey” researching her own history.

HER JOURNEY In 1976 and 1977, teams at Palo Alto Research (PARC) and Caltech began working to innovate VLSI chips. With Lynn Conway leading the team at PARC and Carver Mead at Caltech, the teams

developed methods to design systems and microchips that future developers could learn and build off of. Developers needed to learn how to use this new technology. Taking inspiration from Charles Steinmetz, who taught Alternating Current electricity to students after contributing to the field himself, Conway helped develop a VLSI course at MIT. Here, students were now given the opportunity to learn and practice the techniques necessary to innovate new microchips with VLSI technology. Her students quickly grew hungry for more, and Conway could see it. So, under the institutional label MIT provided, she put together MPC79 (Multi-Project Chip 79), a “hack”-like project that gave students access to fabrication facilities to create more VLSI innovations and projects. MPC79 was a huge success and kicked off another wave of innovation. As her Mead-Conway course was becoming increasingly popular, it was no surprise that by 1983 it was being offered at 113 different universities. With her newly trained innovators, the technical revolution sped up exponentially. 2019’s Pride is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot where LGBT+ citizens demonstrated and fought against police raids at the Stonewall Inn located in New York City. Martha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, was part of the vanguard that Despite her major role in advancing VLSI technology, Conway’s participated in the riot. Until recently, Johnson’s story was lost contributions are not widely known. Conway says that her in history, along with the stories of other trans folk. By the “benchmark [for] if things have ...changed is if [her] story is ever Conway Effect, her efforts were attributed to members of the understood in [her] lifetime.” To Lynn, “everything is different community who were more classically expected to be “known” but everything is the same.” While there may have been many changemakers. advances for LGBTQ+ citizens and women, the “relative positions” haven’t changed. So how do we spark change? Conway believes her experiences


provide a starting point. To change any system, you have to understand it. Lynn’s technological prowess was fundamental to the development of VLSI, but what was even more instrumental was her anthropological understanding of the world. MPC79 was successful in encouraging students to innovate because she spoke their language and appealed to hacking culture. Conway says that creating change requires a “design of social experiences.” In design, a mental model is a representation of how a person believes something works in the world. To create change, we have to understand the societal bias that exists and design against those biases. By understanding biases as mental models, we can better understand why discrimination persists and work to combat it.

Lynn and her partner Charlie.


Finally, we can dispel these mental models through education. Conway believes in advocacy “through narrative, through exposé, through insightful illumination.” In the Conway Effect, success is attributed to cis men in higher ranking positions because, in society’s mental model, it is the story that has been told most often. “Stark in its facts and its framing,” publishing her story is a radical act, an act that proves Conway to be a known innovator, paving the way for future women and members of the LGBTQ+ community to innovate in her footsteps.


Dr. Anita Sengupta, aerospace engineer and industry innovator.

DR. ANITA SENGUPTA: INNOVATOR, ENGINEER, PIONEER Rockets towering over three hundred feet high, planes with propellers the size of cars, and networks of intertwined wires and chips are commonplace for an aerospace engineer like Dr. Anita Sengupta. Not only is Dr. Sengupta an aerospace engineer with over twenty years of industry experience, she is also an entrepreneur, a research associate professor at the University of Southern California, and a role model for girls around the world. Without her commitment to beating the odds and overcoming stereotypes, Dr. Sengupta wouldn’t be where she is today.

“I knew since I was six years old that I wanted to be involved in the exploration of space,” she explained.

These early childhood interests in science fiction and her passion for solving problems blossomed into a fascination with aerospace engineering. By the time she reached high school, she already knew she wanted to major in aerospace engineering in college. Despite others advising her to take a different path, Dr. Sengupta was determined to achieve her dream of working on space exploration projects and unwilling to let others’ criticism Her journey to making strides as an engineer and entrepreneur stand in her way. started from a spark of inspiration in her childhood. When she was young, Dr. Sengupta would often observe her father, a When she entered the workforce, she was determined to take mechanical engineer by trade. As she watched him complete on projects she was passionate about, even if they were outside electrical projects, work on cars, and think critically on a daily of her comfort zone. For instance, she led a team of engineers to basis, she developed her own problem-solving skills. “As a child, design the supersonic parachute system for the Curiosity I took on the task of creating pool pumps, wiring the basement Rover’s landing on Mars. Reflecting back on her experience, Dr. for cable TV, and diagnosing plumbing problems. I love [working Sengupta recounted, “I had never worked on a mission that through]...challenging problems that haven't been solved landed on another planet...the biggest takeaway from [working before,” she says. on this project] was that in life and your career, you have to be a lifelong learner.” The design and qualification of the parachute Dr. Sengupta also took inspiration from works of science fiction system was so challenging that the process of entry, descent, such as Star Trek - specifically her favorite character, Spock - and landing was dubbed the “Seven Minutes of Terror.” Dr. and Doctor Who. Her love for science fiction became the catalyst Sengupta’s hard work and dedication paid off when the rover for her interest in space exploration. successfully landed on Mars on August 5, 2012.


Another one of Dr. Sengupta’s career accomplishments was leading the design and construction of a scientific research facility for the International Space Station (ISS) as an instrument project manager. Prior to her ISS project, she had not worked extensively with atomic physics or laser optical systems, and she had never led such a large team before. Nevertheless, Dr. Sengupta tackled the challenge head-on and overcame the odds to achieve success. “It was a great experience that I grew a lot from,” Dr. Sengupta explains. Her work on the International Space Station led to the creation of the Cold Atom Laboratory, a quantum physics-based cooling system, which, according to NASA, is “the coldest spot in the universe.” Apart from leading aerospace engineering teams, Dr. Sengupta recently co-founded a company, Airspace Experience Technologies, with a goal of designing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for Urban Air Mobility. As its chief product officer, Dr. Sengupta has to juggle and master a variety of skill sets such as marketing, public relations, and product development. While it’s a daunting undertaking, she has embraced the experience with open arms. Dr. Sengupta and her team’s impact has been profound - not will their aircraft fly at speeds of 150 miles per hour, but it’s also fully electric and environmentally friendly. Dr. Sengupta and her team aim to begin cargo deliveries in 2023 and passenger flights by 2024. By 2025, the goal is to have over 2500 ASX aircraft serving the public. Despite her amazing feats that have impacted thousands both directly and indirectly, she says that it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Being a woman in STEM is just another challenge that she’s had to conquer. In fact, Dr. Sengupta says that she faces bias and inappropriate situations regularly.

I believe that the only limitations in life are the ones that you impose on yourself BY: RIA VORA

“You can be in situations when you are the one in charge… but certain men cannot take direction from a female leader. A person who has this type of bias will listen to a man with significantly less experience than the woman,” she describes. She cites the lack of women in STEM fields as a possible reason for this bias. “In the Unites States, 15% of aerospace engineers in industry are women. As a professor of astronautics, I see only 15% women in my classes. Insufficient gender and ethnic diversity in the workforce can lead to a toxic and unsupportive work environment. We need to strive towards gender equity and parity in the workplace” Dr. Sengupta asserts. “If a woman is told she is not good enough (as I have been countless times), it results in a lack self-confidence. This is a problem in our society for women entering the STEM fields.”, she explained. Dr. Sengupta is now sharing her story to inspire and motivate young women to pursue a career in the field of their choice. She is spreading her message by speaking at events such as TEDx Liverpool and BBC World News, as well as career fairs and panels for young students and women of color. “I believe that the only limitations in life are the ones that you impose on yourself,” she said. Dr. Sengupta has made great strides as an engineer, entrepreneur, pilot, and professor. She’s beat the odds in the pursuit of her dreams to become one of the biggest names in aerospace engineering. Today, she encourages people all over the world to follow their passions by sharing her story and urging them to overcome the obstacles that lie in their path, just like she did.



Cassidy Williams, a computer scientist and hacker extraordinaire.

Just five years after graduating from college, Cassidy Williams has already accomplished what most people in the tech industry can only dream of.

Cassidy stuck out as one of the only women taking computer science courses, and one of the fewer still who earned a computer science degree.

Cassidy earned an internship at Microsoft. She became Head of Developer Voice Programs at Amazon. She scored job offers from Google, Apple, Intel, and LinkedIn. She was the youngest person named to Glamour Magazine’s “35 Women Under 35 Changing the Tech Industry,” a list populated with the likes of multimillionaire beauty guru Michelle Phan and Arielle Zuckerberg (yes, that Zuckerberg!). She was invited to the White House. She has starred in a documentary about women in STEM. She’s even verified on Twitter!

What helped Cassidy overcome the stares and judgment was the supportive community of women and minorities in tech behind her. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for these amazing mentors and people,” Cassidy says.

But before all the accolades and honors came pouring in, Cassidy was just a girl with a passion for STEM. She didn’t know that a gender gap existed in those fields. She didn’t know many adults around her who worked in those industries. She didn’t know much about computer science or coding. She did know, however, that she loved math and science. Cassidy first encountered coding in middle school. After hearing that her classmate built a website, she decided to create one too, sparking a lifelong passion for web development and computer science. It wasn’t until later in her education, however, that she began noticing the gender gap in STEM fields. On the first day of her AP Computer Science class, Cassidy was singled out by her teacher as the only girl in the room. Then, while studying at Iowa State University,


amazing mentors and people."

Ten years ago, Cassidy won an award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) as just a senior in high school. By doing so, she was able to meet women passionate about computers and tech, just like her. Cassidy credits NCWIT and other outreach efforts for her professional success: “While I was a student figuring out my path into this industry, getting to attend women in science and engineering events and hackathons helped me network early on with mentors that I still keep in touch with to this day.”


It may seem that diversity in tech has come a long way since then. The numbers are all right - NCWIT has grown from a group of approximately 30 girls when Cassidy first joined to a nationwide community nearly 6,000 women and girls strong. In 2018, nearly 40,000 girls took an AP Computer Science exam. And according to NCWIT, women held a quarter of all professional computing jobs in the U.S. However, while the faces of the tech industry look a little different than they did years ago, some things have remained the same. In spite of her success, Cassidy, like countless other women in STEM, still faces discrimination. “Being a woman in tech, I’ve definitely encountered all sorts of negative stereotypes and interactions,” she admits. “At hackathons, I've offered to help a team, and they'll reply, ‘oh, I'm looking for help from an engineer,’ assuming I'm not one. I've spoken out against inappropriate behavior and have been doxxed and harassed online. I've been told plainly and directly by a manager that my negative interactions with coworkers were ‘because I'm a woman’ with a shrug. These sorts of interactions suck, a ton.” To Cassidy, it’s not enough for the industry to merely be diverse. No matter how many women, people of color, or other members of disadvantaged populations work in tech, the tech industry cannot be truly equal without inclusivity. While minority involvement is certainly important, what’s

more important is that these minorities feel accepted by their colleagues, customers, and everyone in between. Cassidy is now working to promote inclusivity in tech by empowering others to learn. In between flying to speak at conventions across the country, working a full-time job at CodePen, and building her own mechanical keyboards, Cassidy is teaching others about coding and tech. It’s her way of giving back to the same community that helped her successfully pursue her love of computer science. In 2018, Cassidy created a Udemy course, which has helped 2,000 aspiring web developers learn about programming tools like JavaScript and React since its inception. She’s served as the Director of Outreach for Hacker Fund, a nonprofit that has introduced thousands of high school students to STEAM and entrepreneurship through workshops, hackathons, and summits. She’s currently the Director of Outreach for cKeys, an organization of people who love creating mechanical keyboards.

"Being a woman in tech,

I DEFINITELY ENCOUNTERED ALL SORTS OF NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES AND INTERACTIONS." Within her local community, she teaches HTML and CSS workshops to a variety of age groups, from elementary schoolers to adults. Alongside her sister, Camryn, Cassidy also volunteers at outreach events like hackathons. “I love mentoring at these kinds of events (so much so that I actually met my husband while mentoring at one!) because you get to help developers get to that ‘ah ha’ moment of clarity,” Cassidy says. “It's always such a fun time showing people how they can build cool things and seeing them take what they've learned and run with it.”


Williams showing off one of her homemade keyboards.


Cassidy’s efforts are welcoming the next generation of women and minorities into a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. After fighting against stereotypes and discrimination through every step of her career, she is now fighting for others. And that’s exactly what makes Cassidy Williams an everyday changemaker. It’s more than just her professional success - it’s her commitment to giving back to the community that supported her through every step of her computer science journey. Cassidy is proof that when empowered to do so, women and minorities can challenge the stereotypes they face and achieve even greater heights in their careers.


Senamile Masango, a nuclear physicist from South Africa.

SENAMILE MASANGO NOT YOUR EVERYDAY NUCLEAR PHYSICIST It’s not every day that you meet a nuclear physicist whose story reads something like this: grew up in a rural area under the Apartheid government in South Africa; started university at sixteen; failed a few modules; fell pregnant; nearly dropped out; and then went on to become the first African woman to conduct an experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS Senamile Masango grew up in Nongoma, a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She comes from a polygamous family of teachers; she says her family ensured that the value of education was instilled in her from an early age. As is often the case, her parents’ attitude to education left an indelible mark; they were rigorous, dedicated, and unequivocal in their respect for education. The idea that “education is the one thing no one can take away from you,” was reinforced to her by her father. She became fascinated with science at the age of eleven when her geography teacher introduced the class to the concept of space exploration. “I wanted to be the first African to land on the moon, but in 2003, Mark Shuttleworth beat me to it,'' she jokes. She deviated from family tradition and chose to pursue a career in science. She hasn’t made it to the moon yet, but she is one of South Africa’s very few black female nuclear physicists.


“I want to raise money to build my own mobile science labs. Limpopo, KZN, Eastern Cape – these are all deep rural areas where there is no infrastructure for teaching a subject like Masango started school when she was four years old, which science. Students are being tested on ammeters but have never means she began university at the age of sixteen, two years even seen one. Imagine learning chemistry if you’ve never mixed earlier than her peers. anything!”


“I grew up with a very strict father,” she says. “For me, university meant freedom.” Navigating this freedom at a young age introduced numerous challenges for Masango. One of her biggest regrets is that she never had female mentors in the STEM track when she was starting out her journey as a scientist. “There were classes where I was the only female in my undergrad. I wish someone had been there to guide me.”

In a country where government support for public schools is sorely lacking, it is initiatives such as this that promise to usher in the next generation of female scientists. Masango’s determined attitude of “paying it forward” might just be the catalyst that makes a difference in another young scientist’s life.


She reflects that she made many mistakes along the way. “I failed a few modules, I couldn’t finish my degree, and I also Masango has strong opinions about what needs to change in order for more girls to succeed in STEM careers in South Africa. ended up pregnant.” “As a country, we’re talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution. For many young women in a similar position, these hurdles But first things first – we must fix our basic education. There is might have meant the end of their academic pursuits. In South no way that we will develop without sorting out the education Africa, only 15% of university students make it from their first crisis,” she says. Masango’s sharp attitude about the state of year all the way through to graduation. Unsurprisingly, the public schooling in South Africa is well-founded. In 2014, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa last (144 out of 144) highest failure rates are in maths and science programs. in the quality of its maths and science education. In 2015, a Masango experienced both failure and a major life event, but World Bank report found that only 35% of Grade 6 learners were instead of quitting, she chose to persevere. She says the support numerate at an acceptable level and the figure fell to a shocking of her family during this time was invaluable. She needed that 3% for Grade 9 learners. support some years later, when her daughter was tragically killed in a car accident on her very first day of school. Nevertheless, she persisted.

BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING IN SCIENCE In June 2017, Masango made headlines when she became the first African woman to conduct an experiment at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. This is where you’ll find the Large Hadron Collider – a 27 km long particle accelerator where high-energy particle beams travel close to the speed of light and are made to collide with each other. Masango and her team were studying the isotope selenium-70 in order to understand how its nucleic shape relates to its energy levels. She was the only woman on the team, although she marvels at the diversity that was present. “This was also the first time an African institution had proposed an experiment at CERN. Most of us came from rural areas. We didn’t do our undergrads at UWC (the University of the Western Cape) and instead started at places like the University of Zululand, the University of Venda and Fort Hare – all historically disadvantaged institutions.” Masango’s vision is to use her foundation, WISE Africa (Women in Science and Engineering in Africa), to help girls excel in math and science.


A CIRCUITOUS PATH TO SUCCESS In a world where success is often misconstrued as a linear path that leads to happiness and wealth, Masango’s journey is a reminder of the myriad ways that success is attained. Perhaps she defines the norm, in fact, when it comes to that mythical “road to success” – it’s more like a messy footpath, with detours and unexpected pauses along the way. It’s never straightforward. And it certainly isn’t easy. Resilience is what really sets “successful” people apart from the rest. It’s that ability to face trying circumstances and relentless opposition, yet still take ownership over who you want to be. Masango sees self-esteem as a vital factor in attaining one’s goals. Self-esteem, or basic confidence, tends to be overlooked in technical fields where words like “resilience” and “confidence” are overshadowed by accolades and outward excellence. “Once your mind is right, there is nothing you can’t conquer. Science is challenging. You have to believe in yourself, be committed, work hard, and ultimately love what you do.” For someone whose story might so easily have unfolded in other directions, Senamile Masango is proof yet again that circumstances don’t define your journey. Your choices do.


50 YEARS IN THE MAKING: A Return to Human Spaceflight By: Abigail Johnson

The mobile launcher that will be used to launch the SLS and Orion spacecraft.

The Vehicle Assembly Building Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

Fifty years ago, the world stood still in anticipation as Neil Armstrong took the legendary step that many believed was impossible. After countless years of hard work, the women and men who worked to make the Apollo 11 mission a success could rest knowing that they fulfilled the lingering promise set by President John F. Kennedy to put an American on the Moon.

the life support systems for modern human missions to the Moon are similar to the systems used by Apollo astronauts in the late 1960s, a mission to Mars will be of a longer duration and require resources that have yet to be developed by NASA and other agencies. Future long-duration manned missions will be critically dependent on the spacecraft’s durability and reliability.

With the eyes of the world on the sky, the focus of NASA shifted to collaborating with other space organizations to build a space station for humans to inhabit for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, this shift led to the end of the Apollo program and manned spaceflight outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

In May of 2011, NASA announced the creation of Orion, a new spacecraft that would overcome the challenges presented by long-duration manned spaceflight. The Orion Crew Capsule can be launched on the Space Launch System (SLS), a new NASA launch vehicle that is designed with enough thrust to support the large payloads required for interplanetary missions.

It wasn’t until the end of the Space Shuttle Era that NASA refocused on the idea of humans inhabiting other planets. Now, Safety is paramount to NASA, and they need to guarantee the the world once again is striving to reach the Moon and well-being of their astronauts even in the most dire of ultimately set foot on Mars. circumstances. In the case of an emergency, the vehicle employs the Launch Abort System to get Orion’s crew out of the All over the world, scientists are making efforts to learn more dangerous situation and safely back down to the ground. This about how spaceflight affects the human body and what abort system was designed to steer the crew capsule at full supplies and technologies are needed to create a habitat in capacity away from the launch vehicle using a large thrust of space. While 400,000 pounds.


The Launch Abort System was tested at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida on July 2nd, 2019. This test, called the Ascent Abort-2, was meant to put the Launch Abort System under maximum stress in order to simulate a fully loaded Orion Crew Capsule in need of a quick escape. The test was successful and the Ascent Abort-2 mission satisfied all of its objectives. The next step to manned missions back to the Moon will rely on the completion of SLS. It was targeted to be ready to launch in 2017, but a few manufacturing and testing complications have extended the timeline to the year 2020. Once the Space Launch System has been assembled and cleared for testing, NASA will conduct a test fire of the rocket to check any systems on board that might cause flight errors. NASA has announced that the Orion Spacecraft will complete Artemis 1, its first official mission, once the launch vehicle has been deemed safe for mission and crew success. This mission, though unmanned, will be the start of a new era in human spaceflight and mark the return of human exploration of space beyond low earth orbit. Similar to many of the first Apollo missions, Artemis 1 will follow a flight trajectory to the Moon simulating an onboard living environment for future astronauts; this will help to ensure safety measures onboard are intact to bear the stressful impact of vacuum in space. NASA has even designed the flight path for Artemis 1 to surpass the Moon, extending the timeline of the mission. After many days in space, the crew capsule will return to Earth’s orbit and reenter the atmosphere before the final splashdown near the coast of California. 3...2...1...LIFTOFF!

Upon a successful first flight of Orion and the Space Launch System, NASA will use the Orion capsule to conduct the first lunar mission since Apollo 17 in 1972.

A view of the launch pad after the launch.

This mission, though unmanned, will be the

start of a new era in human spaceflight and mark the return of human exploration of space beyond low earth orbit. 29 | 50 YEARS IN THE MAKING: A RETURN TO HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT

The space industry is growing rapidly, with fierce competition to be the first back on the Moon. With numerous avenues and thousands of women and men working hard to accomplish the goal, the old dream of walking on the Moon has been rekindled and is approaching faster than the world can imagine.

many historical markers have yet to be conquered in human spaceflight. Astronauts today form a diverse group of scholars and individuals that all work together regardless of gender, race, religion, or ethnicity. Women and men around the world have traveled together into the void of space and will continue to do so with the upcoming set of missions.

Unlike in decades past when NASA and Russia were the only entities capable of putting humans in space, a recent push for private organizations to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station has led to a multitude of new options for space travel. SpaceX, owner of the Crew Dragon and Starship vehicles, has aspirations to send humans to Mars, with practice flights around the Moon leading up to that final journey. Blue Origin, owner of the New Shepherd, New Glenn, and Blue Moon lunar lander, has already completed numerous test flights and is aiming to be a key part of NASA’s return to manned lunar missions.

During the Apollo era, women never received the spotlight they deserved for their work on the space program. Currently, 59 female astronauts have been to space, many of which have completed rigorous missions on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. For the first time in history, NASA has selected an astronaut class with an even female to male ratio. Soon, one hardworking woman is going to be the first female to walk on the Moon. Shortly after, there will be a woman to be the first to walk on Mars. Women of the world are no longer resigned to dreaming about space travel; now anyone with the heart and passion for spaceflight can make it amongst While Neil Armstrong may have been the first man on the Moon, the stars.



can make it amongst the stars. A crawler-transporter, which is used to carry rockets to the launch pad.

The Orion capsule on descent after launch vehicle separation.





Megan Smith Megan Smith speaking at the CSforAll Summit. Photo credit: CSforAll

Megan Smith is arguably one of the most powerful American women in STEM. After graduating from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering, Smith went on to work at well-known companies such as Apple and General Magic before joining Google in 2003. She eventually became Google’s vice president of new business development, leading a broad range of work until 2014, when she earned the title of the third Chief Technology Officer of the United States under the Obama administration. In addition to working as an engineer, Smith is a successful businesswoman; she co-founded and currently serves as the CEO of shift7, a company that aims to combine methods from the technology and public service sectors to address complex challenges. She is also a vocal advocate for STEM education and the LGBTQ community, which she is a part of.

A SNAPSHOT INTO GROWING UP AS A YOUNG WOMAN IN STEM Megan Smith comes from a family who “liked to fix things.” They were always trying to come up with ways to best serve their community; for example, on the first Earth Day, Smith’s mom organized community bike ride and a race between a biker, walker, bus rider, and car rider stretching from the edge of her hometown of Buffalo, New York to downtown, and established the Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club now the largest bike club in western New York.

Smith’s grandfather in particular carried out his service as an engineer. He played an integral role in engineering the highway But the road to Smith’s success was never easy. The stereotypes systems of Indiana and Pennsylvania, and later at U.S. Steel. about women that society has perpetuated have created many challenges for not only Smith, but for all women trying to pursue careers in STEM. Reinvented had the privilege of speaking with Smith and getting to know her story, her thoughts about these challenges, and what she believes can be done to achieve gender equality in the STEM workforce.

“I remember when my mom told him that I was going to become an engineer...and he asked,

‘Why would she want to be an engineer? Why would she want to do that?’" And it was because he couldn’t understand why his granddaughter would be interested in engineering!” Eventually he learned to wrap his head around the idea. Smith said that the prospect excited him because he was incredibly passionate about engineering and was absolutely elated to share this interest with his granddaughter. “He just had to make that jump in his mind and become aware of the stereotypes he was perpetuating,” she explained.

Smith working on a project as a mechanical engineer.

But changing an ingrained train of thought is often a task that’s easier said than done. It is our preconceived biases about what topics STEM is for and what a person in STEM should look like biases planted by the media we consume, the words and attitudes of the people around us, and the cultures we grow up in - that are the root cause of discrimination against women in the STEM workforce. The obstacles these women face are often not deliberate, but instead take the form of "a bajillion microaggressions" that may slowly chip away at their selfesteem, making them less confident in their STEM abilities and unintentionally reinforcing the stereotypes that were subtly weaponized against them.


A cause of this, Smith observed, is that many people have a default mental image of what a powerful person looks like: a person of the most dominant race of the country they live in, and almost always a man. "I've noticed an example of this unconscious bias with stories shared by my astronaut friends," Smith told us, "When a white man steps onto the training deck, everyone is thinking, 'I wonder what he's going to do today!' But when a non-white, non-male steps out, the first thing that pops into their heads is, 'I wonder if they can do it.'" This bias phenomenon can be seen in a multitude of interactions involving any person that doesn't fit the prototype for success; for example, a woman being interviewed for a job in a STEM field may experience a more aggressive style of questioning. The truth is that these stereotypes create an imbalance of power. They grant one group the privilege of being able to exist without immediate judgment or apprehension and bestow the duty of having to work harder to prove themselves over and over again to another. So no matter how intelligent or capable a woman might be, she will always be fighting a constant battle to validate her worth and the inclusion of her insights, ideas, innovations and inventions.

Smith speaking at the 2017 MAKERS conference. Photo credit: MAKERS

But Smith believes that change is possible, and that it starts with how people choose to interact with one another. “We really just need to give people the space and training they need to reevaluate their thoughts, default practices, and beliefs,” she Picture this: you’ve just taken a group photo with your friends, expressed. “And only then can we truly reinvent, for the better, and you all crowd around the camera, trying to get a glimpse of how it turned out. You notice your eyes are slightly closed and the method with which we interact with and do STEM work.” wow, that is not your most flattering angle, so you jokingly say, “To anyone who’s planning on posting that … please have mercy on your followers and crop my unfortunate face out.”


"But when a non-white, non-male steps out, the first thing that pops into their heads is,

'I wonder if they

It’s a pretty common scenario, especially in today’s Digital Age. But cropping people out of the picture is not just a modern world phenomena; people have been getting cropped out of remarkable moments in history since the very beginning. “Many of the people that I look up to are these hidden figures, these genius people who just got left out of the story,” Smith shared with us, “It’s such a shame, because history gets cropped so often. Take, for example, the Mercury 7 astronauts. Although everything was extremely biased and only white males got to be formally selected as astronauts, the reality was that there were actually thirteen Mercury women astronaut candidates who were qualified and tested -- privately funded but in the same clinic with the same tests.”

can do it.'"

Smith went on to explain that one of these women, Jerrie Cobb, actually had two times the number of flight hours of Mercury 7 member John Glenn. But there was an unfair rule that stated one had to be a test pilot in the military to be an astronaut, and The lesson to take away from this is to take that mental jump at the time, only men were capable of being test pilots. Because whenever you can. Have the courage to self-reflect and of this, many women had to be cut, despite the fact that they challenge your thoughts, values, and belief systems, just like were fully qualified, passed all the tests, and, on occasion, even Megan Smith’s grandfather did, all those years ago. surpassed the male candidates.


Smith believes that it is of the utmost importance to include these forgotten geniuses in the history books we teach our children. “Through discovering these lost histories, we gain confidence in our existence. Confidence that everyone is welcome, men and women, in these fields, for all time, despite the profound discrimination that has been there all along. We need to uncrop these hidden figures, open up the pictures and really see the truth of what’s been done.”

THE EXPOSURE OF BIAS It’s one thing to simply observe; it’s another thing to take action. And taking action is exactly what Megan Smith plans to do with her company shift7. One of shift7’s main initiatives is on equity in the media. The biased media that we are exposed to everyday has a drastic effect on the way we think of one another, which is why shift7 has put a central focus on researching the stories of more hidden figures and ensuring that these stories are told. Shedding light on the people in the backgrounds of historical photos and the weight of their contributions, such as the sister and mother of the Wright brothers, rounds out the widespread perception of groundbreaking people in STEM. And Smith is hopeful that this initiative will reinforce the confidence of those who have spent forever looking for some semblance of themselves in the photographs of history, and have found nothing - that is, until now. One of the main questions that Smith and shift7 are trying to answer is: can we use AI data, data science, and computer science tools such as face recognition and natural language processing to solve the problem of unconscious bias? Shift7 partner Geena Davis had noticed the gender bias presented in the media, and set out to collect the data. She found that there was a 3:1 screen-time ratio of boys to girls in family TV. Further analysis is being done with the University of Southern California’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory regarding points of interest such as the amount of lines actors versus actresses receive, and whether or not it’s possible to run a show or movie script as it’s being written through an analysis tool and scan it for bias. This data could eventually help script writers become more aware of their unconscious biases and learn to correct themselves in the future, ultimately ushering the media towards a more open-minded perspective of the world. Shift7 also utilizes economic research to debunk certain myths that associate women in media with negative press. There is a popular misconception that women-lead films tend to make relatively less money, but shift7’s research has found the exact opposite. In fact, they revealed that women-lead films actually make more money at all box office levels on average.

Through discovering these lost histories, we gain

confidence in our existence.

Confidence that everyone is welcome, men and women, in these fields, for all time, despite the profound discrimination that has been there all along.



BLOCK OUT THE NOISE, AND FOCUS ON PASSION Smith shares that to get someone into STEM, they have to (1) see people who look like them do it, (2) try it, realize they can do it and that it’s not just an intimidating, abstract, and untouchable thing but instead something fun and engaging, (3) be encouraged and understand that STEM is a team sport and fun to do with other people, and most importantly, and (4) foster passion by working on something that’s uniquely interesting to them. Many people have the misconception that pursuing a career in STEM means that they will be exercising the same linear, unexpressive discipline their whole lives - a misconception with which Smith, who is both an engineer and businesswoman, wholeheartedly disagrees. “I think there’s this stereotype that with STEM, you can only be focused on one thing to be really good. But something that I feel a lot of people don’t understand is that you can blend your passions! It’s critical to follow what you are interested in, and important to blend many subjects to have real impact.” In addition, Smith encourages our readers to embrace the team aspects of STEM, as working with fun and open-minded people is something that can be truly enjoyable and even life-changing. She even recommends working in a different country if the opportunity ever comes your way! And ultimately, Smith believes that passion, a passion engaged through deep curiosity, service or community, is what truly defines a person in STEM. She mentioned that science and math teaching in schools sadly differ from the humanities such as english or history in that when you learn science and math, you absorb all the content but don’t really get to apply what you’ve learned until much later if you get the opportunity to invent, discover, and express yourself through it. “Participating in real scientific inquiry is different from a laboratory assignment when we already know the answer,” Smith noted, “which is why it’s really important to have a chance to do real research into personal topics of interest and doing projects that are simply passion-based, on your own or especially with others.”

Smith speaking to Grace Hopper Celebration attendees. Photo credit:

The Big Picture So, what does it mean to be a woman in STEM? It means being a symbol of change in the world. It means carrying on the legacy of all the hidden figures that have been cropped out of our history. And most importantly, it means supporting one another, rising up to defeat obstacle after obstacle that comes your way… succeeding against all odds.



Cinderella's castle at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.


Part of the magic of the Walt Disney franchise is its ability to transform charming films into interactive theme parks and thrilling rides. It is in these parks that the characters from the movies come to life and immerse visitors in their stories. The process by which these characters are transformed from onscreen images to interactive experiences is called Imagineering, a combination of science and Disney’s worldfamous creative touch.

The Haunted Mansion at Disney World.

Many of Disney’s most iconic rides give thrill-seekers the awe they are looking for by putting the riders into scenes from beloved stories via coasters, carts, boats, or cars. The settings and environment around the ride are where the Disney team must make fantasy a reality. For example, the Haunted Mansion ride takes place in a building with the facade of a decades-old mansion. The ride takes guests through rooms haunted by ghosts and spirits. With some lighting, fog machines, projections, animatronics, and pulleys, the rider is left under the impression that the objects in the mansion are floating or glowing. The riders are shrouded in darkness to prevent them from seeing the action behind the scenes, and most of the walls are coated in black paint to hide the intricate wires and machinery that breathe life into the rides.


Disney has also developed a technique using mirrors to create a ghost-like illusion - it has even stunned many magicians and scientists in the past. In this process, light shines on an object and illuminates a scene. With the help of mirrors placed at precise angles, a reflection of the object, called a false image, is projected. This false image looks like an exact replica of the original object but in a different location. It’s similar to the many reflections one would see when walking into a house of

mirrors. The false image tricks the brain into thinking this image is the original object when it is really only bent light. In fact, a person could run their hand through the false image and find nothing there. This technique was believed to be used by theatrical performances, such as Hamlet in the 1800s, to give ghostly characters the right gray and shadowed look. Using mirrors to bend light in this manner allows riders to experience scenes with floating ghosts that look astonishingly real and move freely against the law of physics. With the right timing and sequencing, Disney is able to pull off a chilling ride in the Haunted Mansion that leaves their visitors questioning how it all happens.

the lifelike characters guests enjoy. Small details like these can make a big difference in the entire perception of the ride. Thrill rides may not require as many decorative details, but they do present the challenge of safely giving Disney visitors a taste of adventure. Disneyland’s Incredicoaster uses mechanics and physics to do exactly this. Propulsion by magnetism keeps the coaster on track during the high-speed acceleration at the beginning of the ride. Electromagnetic sensors involving powerful batteries and repulsive magnets are placed along the track to give the coaster the strong push it needs, inducing a positive acceleration and “launching” riders into a world of superheroes and action.

Other Disney rides that create such lifelike experiences use animatronics, robotic props that move and behave in a realistic manner, to give the ride a special effect. Rides with animatronics provide a more immersive experience than rides that only use projections. The Na’vi River Journey, one of Disney’s latest family friendly rides, is a great example of the implementation of animatronics. This new water attraction takes its riders on a gentle journey through the wilderness of Pandora after sun set. Most of the decorations and backgrounds in the ride involve moving parts and animatronics to set a scene of wild life, from the wings of Buzz Lightyear, an animatronic bugs to the leaves on the trees. None of that compares to the used in the Space Ranger Spin animatronics used to bring the character known as the Shaman ride. of Songs to life. Currently standing as Disney’s most advanced animatronic to date, a vast series of intricate motors and other electronics allow the character to move each part of her face and Disney takes the safety of its guests very seriously, so every body. ride is tested thoroughly before it is opened to the public. These rides also include multiple fail-safe codes in their systems to Animatronics are made up of a system of circuits, pneumatic or prevent errors that could put riders or operators at risk of hydraulic valves, and mechanical parts. Moving parts require an accidents or malfunctions. Because ride systems are expected increase of voltage or vibration to open a pneumatic valve that to withstand a substantial amount of processing and causes motion in a specific direction. Most of the voltage environmental stress for long periods of time, Disney designs, changes in these parts are triggered by sound sequences used in manufactures, and installs all of their own hardware and the ride. These two factors happening at the same time create software. Without the artistic and scientific touch of the Imagineers, Disney’s parks wouldn’t be considered the most magical places on Earth. Walt Disney himself could not have said it better:

“YOU CAN DESIGN AND CREATE, AND BUILD THE MOST WONDERFUL PLACE IN THE WORLD. BUT IT TAKES PEOPLE TO The Shaman of Songs, Disney's most advanced animatronic to date.


make the dream a reality."


HISTORICAL FIGURES: GRACE HOPPER In a time where few women graduated college, earned military rank, or created innovations that would change the world, there was Grace Hopper. Born in 1906, Grace Hopper was an intelligent young girl, constantly intrigued by the way things worked. As she grew older, this interest didn’t waver. In 1928, she earned bachelor’s degrees in both mathematics and science from Vassar College. She would go on to earn a master's and doctorate degree from Yale University in both of these subjects between 1928 and 1934. In this time period, less than 6% of women obtained postsecondary degrees and even fewer women studied STEM disciplines. This was just the beginning of Hopper’s extraordinary achievements. After serving as an associate math professor at Vassar College, Hopper applied for a leave of absence to join the U.S. Naval Reserves for women, called Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES). In 1944, she graduated first in her class after undergoing both basic training and advanced Grace Hopper: Rear Admiral in courses. Over the duration of the WAVES program, only an the U.S. Navy. approximate 8,000 women became officers out of 104,000 recruits, putting Hopper in an elite 7.6%. After graduation, she was placed at Harvard University as a While Hopper was accomplishing so much in the world of computing, she was also making great strides in her military Lieutenant Junior Grade. career. Over the course of her 42 years in the Navy, she rose While there, she worked on the Bureau of Ordnance’s from a Lieutenant Junior Grade to Rear Admiral. She earned a Computation Project, which was recognized not only as the total of 11 military awards while she was alive, and after her first large-scale, automatic calculator, but also as a predecessor death in 1992, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to electronic computers. This calculator weighed an in 2016. astonishing five tons, was over 50 feet in length, and was made When asked to reflect upon her accomplishments over the of over 750,000 mechanical parts. course of her career, Hopper replied, “The most important thing Over time, Hopper helped create some of the first compiler- I've accomplished, other than building the compiler is training based programming languages. These languages were then young people. They come to me, you know, and say, 'Do you expanded on during a two-day conference in 1959, where a new think we can do this?' I say, 'Try it.' And I back 'em up.” language was created: Common-Business Oriented Language, also known as COBOL. Still utilized today by the U.S. Although Grace Hopper may no longer be around to personally Government, COBOL was written similarly to English and inspire young individuals, her memory is kept alive through allowed Hopper to demonstrate her belief that programming every groundbreaking achievement made by a woman in languages should mimic our own spoken language. computing.

"The most important thing I've accomplished, other than building the compiler, is

training young people

They come to me, you know, and say, 'Do you think we can do this?'

I say, ' Try it.'"





Does it feel as if you won the lottery when you discover a skirt or dress that actually has pockets? Loathe the shallow pockets stitched into work pants that you can barely fit your hands through? Sarah Greisdorf, the founder of Holdette, is looking to change that by redefining women’s fashion.

website in 2018, after she joined Innovate@BU, an accelerator program located in her university’s BUild Lab. Thanks to the mentorship there, she learned how to earn income with Holdette using a pay-per-click affiliate model through the stores she was already linking to. Soon after this, she pitched her website to BU’s less threatening version of Shark Tank, Dolphin When she was a senior in high school, Greisdorf realized how Tank, and she was advised to take the next leap: use the unfair it was that clothing targeted towards men is more likely Holdette brand to design and manufacture her own functional to have functional and usable pockets. She was annoyed that she clothing line. had to rely on bringing a purse to carry all her belongings just because most of the clothing tailored to women lacked the While Greisdorf’s initiative all started with pockets, she utility of men’s fashion. By the time she had enrolled in Boston expresses that functional clothing isn’t simply limited to having University (BU) to study computer science, she had founded someplace to store your phone, wallet, and keys. It’s also about Holdette, a company with an initiative to bring functionality comfortable materials that are sweat-resistant and wrinkle-free. into the world of women’s clothes. These are all relatively rare qualities found in women’s fashion today, and finding a garment that has all three is a miracle. Initially, the focus on functionality was about pockets. Greisdorf Greisdorf acknowledges that there are other companies out was sick of worrying where she would put her phone and other there trying to bridge this gap between fashion and function. personal belongings when she needed to focus on getting work However, she is committed to catering to an audience that she done outside of home. Therefore, Holdette began as a weekly feels is not sufficiently being reached--millennial and Gen-Z newsletter and website that served as a curated list of clothes women entering the workforce. This younger generation, she that featured reasonably sized pockets from stores like H&M asserts, has a much more adventurous sense of style that is not and Old Navy. Gresidorf was able to start capitalizing off her reflected in workwear available today.


With a broader goal of empowering women entering the workforce, Greisdorf wants to ensure that women can crush it out there while on the job. That means making clothing both functional and fashionable. Wearing clothes that we feel comfortable in and that accurately reflect our sense of identity is a real confidence-booster. To package those elements into functional workwear would make any woman feel unstoppable. “What one person feels comfortable wearing,” Greisdorf admits, “is different from one person to the next.” For this reason, she is currently fielding a variety of options to create a series of workplace looks. Because she is targeting women just beginning their career, keeping her price points affordable is a primary focus. She also stresses the importance of maintaining pricing transparency while sticking to environmentally sustainable manufacturing standards. For Greisdorf, a full-time college student and employee of the City of Boston, Holdette is a passion project. She admits that founding and evolving a business while juggling these various roles and responsibilities has been a challenge. What keeps her persistent, though, is her strong belief in Holdette’s cause and ability to make the world a better and more equitable place for women. “What’s important,” she asserts, “is that you do not give


up on your overall vision. If you believe in your vision, you make the time to see it out and see where it goes, even if others are critical of your ideas.” As a founder, you gain a high degree of visibility, which subjects you to a wall of criticism. It’s important to stay true to your fundamental goals. This is especially worth noting when, according to Fortune, just 2.2% of venture capital goes to female-founding teams or startups. When navigating a highly male-dominated arena, Greisdorf emphasizes that it is important for any female founder to “be conscious of whose voices you are letting affect the goals and the dreams that you have.” If your target audience is women, listen to women.

Holdette’s first line is planned for a 2020 release. Photos credit: Noor Nasser


HISTORICAL FIGURES: RACHEL CARSON The origins of the modern U.S. environmental movement can be traced back to Rachel Carson, a leading biologist and writer. Born in 1907, Carson loved reading, writing, and the natural world from a young age. She attended the Pennsylvania College for Women, now Chatham University, and later studied at Johns Hopkins University. Before she could earn her doctorate, however, she had to leave college to support her family during the Great Depression. Despite leaving college, Carson remained motivated to pursue a career in science and writing. She started off writing for a radio program for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and later became a junior aquatic biologist. Despite being the second woman ever hired by the bureau for a full-time professional position, her impact on history was just beginning. By 1955, Carson became the chief editor of publications at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and had already published three books, earning her several prestigious honors including the George Westinghouse Science Writing Prize, the A portrait of Rachel Carson. National Book Award for Nonfiction, the John Burroughs Medal, and in 1962 and revolutionized environmentalism by revealing the two honorary doctorates. adverse effects humans have on nature. In 1957, Carson became interested in environmentalism and began researching pesticide spraying. During the mid-1900s, the federal The response to Silent Spring was unprecedented. Chemical government sprayed land with DDT, a common pesticide, to companies claimed the book was inaccurate and threatened eradicate the gypsy moth, a pest that damaged forests. DDT proved to sue publishers. High-profile chemists said that she wanted effective at killing bugs and pest insects - because it was toxic to “to return [people] to the Dark Ages” and that her book most living things. It harmed birds and marine animals and was advocated for letting insects run wild. suspected to be carcinogenic to humans. However, the public and academia praised Carson and her The Audubon Naturalist Society, which opposed the spraying work, making pesticide use a highly publicized issue and programs, recruited Carson to publicize research concerning DDT. prompting a congressional review of pesticide dangers and a While battling breast cancer, Carson gathered examples of DDT’s report from the President’s Science Advisory Committee. By environmental damage and recruited scientists and writers to help 1972, environmental activists had successfully convinced the her to write a book. That book, entitled Silent Spring, was published U.S. government to phase out the use of DDT.

"One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?"


As a result, the government also created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Before, the Department of Agriculture was responsible for representing both the farming industry and regulating pesticides, which Carson exposed as a conflict of interest. Many of the EPA’s early responsibilities were directly related to concerns voiced in Silent Spring. While Carson may have passed away just two years after Silent Spring’s publication, she has inspired countless people. She achieved unusual success for women of her time, overcoming gender barriers in studying biology and working for the government. Immortalized by several namesake organizations, a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, and countless biographies, Rachel Carson has left her mark as a trailblazer that will burn brightly for generations to come.


IDENTIFICATION OF PROTEIN BIOMARKER SIGNATURE FOR OVARIAN CANCER Cancer is a debilitating disease caused by cells in the body dividing constantly and spreading into surrounding areas. There are many different types of cancer, depending on the organ in which the cancer originates. Unfortunately, it is common for this disease to spread into other organs, so one can have multiple cancers at the same time.

patients in need of surgery. Even with this remarkable advancement, there are still significant challenges. In search of new biomarkers, researchers involved in the Nature-published study compared circulating plasma levels of 593 proteins in three cohorts of patients with ovarian cancer using proximity extension assay (PEA). Circulating plasma cells are cells that can be detected in the blood of a significant portion of patients with various cancers and are useful to researchers studying ovarian cancer. The PEA is an innovative technology that allows for successful protein biomarker discovery, as it enables the measurement of a large amount of proteins across relatively small samples.

Originating in the ovaries, a pair of organs crucial to the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until a late stage or after it has already spread to the pelvis and abdomen. This makes ovarian cancer more difficult to treat, and standard therapies such as surgery and chemotherapy become much less effective. Ovarian cancer is currently the 7th most common cancer in the world, and shockingly, the overall 5-year survival rate is only 30-40 percent. With staggering numbers like Some of the proteins in the 11-protein group have been these, there is an urgent need for earlier detection and better associated previously with ovarian cancer. Expression of the diagnosis. protein TACSTD2 (tumor-associated calcium signal transducer) has been correlated to decreased survival of ovarian cancer One way of better diagnosing various cancers is through and is a biomarker for therapy. SPINT1 is expressed on biomarkers, which are proteins whose presence is indicative of different types of ovarian tumor cells. In advanced stage cancer or other diseases. Currently, biomarkers are used to ovarian tumors, SPINT1 is important in the development of improve diagnoses for women that experience symptoms of ovarian disease. SPINT1 has also been proposed as a target in ovarian cancer, as well as to determine its underlying causes. The therapies for preventing ovarian cancer growth. FR-alpha has tests then allow researchers to assign a level of urgency to been elevated in ovarian cancer patients and correlated to

A graphical representation of cancer cells (purple) growing and taking over healthy cells (pink).


Ovarian cancer cells.

cancer development. Finally, decreased expression of MSMB is correlated with reduced survival of ovarian cancer. There is ongoing research on ovarian cancer and its protein signatures, but the identification of novel biomarkers is a major step in the right direction. By finding the underlying causes, researchers can focus on developing more personalized treatments for these cancer patients. Every ovarian cancer patient is unique, not only as a person, but also biologically. Thus, it is imperative for researchers to be able to develop personalized and targeted treatments for each patient. Overall, the results of this research study could not only be used to improve the diagnosis of ovarian cancer in women, but also in screening and referring women to more specialized examinations. By better understanding what proteins cause cancer to take place and develop, researchers can continue to fight cancer by tackling these specific proteins. Because of developments like this one, ovarian cancer patients now have more hope than ever for a better tomorrow. To identify different biomarker signatures, a strategy involving various computational models was developed by the researchers. The strategy first identifies a small set of proteins, called a core, which typically consists of 2–6 proteins that are important in diagnosing ovarian cancer. Additional proteins are then added to the core, creating a full model of up to 20 proteins. This process is then repeated, excluding one protein at a time from the core to ensure that the following core does not


overlap with a former core. After 484 models, the Nature study found a three-protein core and 11 other plasma proteins as being prominent biomarker signatures. Each of these proteins has unique mutations that can result in ovarian cancer. This can happen because when proteins have, for example, an incorrect shape or structure, they can no longer function appropriately. These errors can trigger cancer processes.

Ovarian cancer awareness ribbon.


THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO HACKATHONS Hackathons can have varying formats, themes, and duration, but the main objective remains the same: create something new by working together.

Hackathons like UC San Diego’s HackXX or Wellesley College’s WHACK promote a women-centric and all-inclusive space in which hackers of all skill levels are openly welcome.

Hackathons have been around since 1999, but their popularity and accessibility have risen rapidly in the past decade. There are now organizations, like Major League Hacking (MLH), whose only purpose is to put on student-led hackathons. MLH currently organizes over 200 hackathons annually, but even that is just a small fraction of all the events held globally.

Besides seeking out more inclusive hackathons, you can make your first experience a positive one by following these five tips:

Despite hackathons becoming commonplace, they can still be intimidating to newcomers who may feel less confident in their technical skills or their ability to work under pressure and with little to no sleep. Some have raised concerns about how the culture of hackathons may turn women away from participating, but lately there has been a push towards making these events more inclusive by promoting equal participation among all genders.

1. ACCEPT DISCOMFORT AND UNCERTAINTY This seems like a lot to swallow, especially if you are already on the fence about your first hackathon. According to Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, girls are more likely to be brought up to take fewer risks. The truth is, you will never feel like you are fully prepared for your first anything. While you risk experiencing the personal discomfort of losing when you choose to compete in a hackathon, if you hold yourself back due to fear, you risk missing out on invaluable learning experiences and personal connections that can lead to internships or careers.

2. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE You might choose to go to your first hackathon with a friend or two, but remember that hackathons offer a great opportunity to put yourself out there and network with other participants to find a team. Most hackathons will provide a time and space for this, during which you’ll be able to find out about one another’s skills and ideas. It is equally important that you find people with mindsets that will contribute to a good team dynamic. If you find yourself having trouble forming a team, reach out to the event coordinator, and they will help you.


Sara Kazemi's badge for HackXX.


Once you find prospective teammates during the networking phase, you might discover that your team’s personalities clash or that the ideas are not as exciting as you initially thought. Don’t feel pressured to stay with that team if teams have not yet been finalized. You are your best advocate for getting the most out of this experience.


4. BE WILLING TO LEARN Your hackathon may feature tech talks or company-led demos of hardware and technologies that are available for your use. The purpose of a hackathon is not only to create something innovative but also to learn new skills. It may seem reckless to attempt to learn something new when you have a limited window of time to complete your hack, but it will be personally rewarding, and the judges will note your ambition! Most importantly, be willing to learn from your teammates. You may even be able to teach your newfound skills to others in your next experience.

5.PLAN BEFORE YOU HACK Most hackathons provide industry mentors to help you narrow the scope of your project and offer advice. If mentors are available, use them! Work with your team to make sure you have a project you can complete in the time allotted. Outline a proof of concept of the high-level requirements for your hack, and don’t be afraid to draw diagrams if that will help you better organize your ideas. Assign roles and responsibilities to each member of the team. This doesn’t mean you should divide up the project and work individually - everyone should still be able to contribute to every part of the final product in some way. Assigning each member a responsibility just ensures that nothing gets overlooked. Finally, Make sure you have enough time to put together a short demonstration of your hack. In some hackathons, you will present face-to-face with judges, and in others, you will present to the whole room. Most importantly, hackathons are all about making something you can be proud of and learning something new. Above all, remember to have fun!

Participants of AIHacks, an allgirls hackathon, working together.


September 28 - 29 New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJ Visit GirlHacks.Tech for more information


September 27 - 28 Simmons University, Boston, MA Visit for more information


January 18 - 19 University of California, Riverside, CA Visit for more information


January 31 - February 2 Boston University, Boston, MA Visit for more information


February 22 - 23 Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ Visit for more information


March 7 - 8 University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA Visit for more information


March 7 - 8 Cumming, GA



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DIY : CHLADNI PLATES Brought to you by

WHAT IS CYMATICS? Have you ever stood next to a loudspeaker at a concert and felt the air moving with the music? Or felt shaking from the subwoofer in your car? Sound is all about vibrations - speakers and instruments vibrate, moving the air around them and creating what we call sound “waves” that our ears can hear. Normally these waves are invisible - they’re just areas of high and low pressure that travel through the air and make our eardrums vibrate. But what if we could see these waves? Cymatics is a term used for patterns that sound waves can create in materials like sand, water, and other substances. They let us see the high and low pressures that the sound waves create when they resonate a surface. Everything in the world has a resonant frequency, meaning you can build your own testing device to see cymatics at home - but more on that later. Musicians (and physicists) have been using cymatics for centuries to build instruments and learn more about how sound works. In the mid 1600s Robert Hooke, an English philosopher, figured out that you can use a bow to vibrate a glass plate covered in flour to create unique shapes and patterns. A century later, Ernst Chladni picked up on Hooke’s research and found that the patterns created on these


vibrating plates were actually directly related to the “modes and nodes” of the vibration. When the plate was resonating, the flour would collect in lines at places where the plate wasn’t vibrating at all. These lines are called the “nodes” of the vibration because they’re like a zero-crossing on a graph: on either side of the line, the plate is vibrating in opposite directions. The flour would jump around in the vibrating sections and end up collecting in the only places where the plate wasn’t moving: the nodes. Most people don’t have glass plates and extra bows sitting around, so we decided to make our Cymatics experiment using stuff you’ll find in your house already so lets get started!



In order to make your own cymatics apparatus, you will need two plastic cups, a balloon, masking tape, and a precision knife. You will also need a cell phone and a fine powder such as salt, sand, or flour.

Step 2:


Cut a hole in one of the cups that is big enough to slide your phone into. You may want to place a piece of tape on either side of the hole to prevent the cup from scratching your phone. Cut the bottom off of the other cup to form a ring.

Step 3:


Blow the balloon up so that it becomes as large as possible before releasing all of the air. Cut the bottom off of the balloon. Stretch the balloon taut over the rim of the cup to create a diaphragm. Try to pull it as tight as possible in order to create a flat surface without any wrinkles or dimples.

Step 4:


Flip the ring over and place it on top of the other cup so that the rims of both cups are touching. Use masking tape to secure the cups and to make sure that any gaps between the cups are sealed so that the powder can’t escape.

Step 5:


Pour about a ½ teaspoon of powder on top of the diaphragm. Download a frequency generator app onto your phone. Slide your phone into the hole with the speaker end inside of the cup and play a tone. Try experimenting with different frequencies and take note of the patterns formed on the diaphragm.


DIFFERENT FREQUENCIES The way that your Chladni diaphragm resonates depends on the frequency you play inside it. Every frequency will have different nodes on the surface, meaning that you’ll see different patterns in the powder depending on the sounds you play! First, find the lowest frequency that you can play that will create a pattern in the powder, then draw the pattern in the first circle below. Then, increase the frequency until you see a new pattern to draw in the next circle. Do you notice changes in the patterns? Is there a relationship between frequencies?




EXPERIMENTS DIFFERENT MATERIALS If you’ve ever accidentally mixed up salt and sugar while baking, you probably know that these two identical looking powders are not so similar after all. Besides the taste, salt and sugar have different densities, which means that if you measure out the same volume of each substance, they will have different masses. In this experiment, you will study how the densities of different materials affect the patterns they make on the diaphragm. Start by picking a frequency, then try four different materials and see if the patterns change! Flour, salt, sugar, corn starch, and sand are some good places to start, but be creative!



Even though Chladni and Hooke used violin bows to find the native resonance of the plates in their experiments, modern versions can get a bit more complex. The most common versions connect the plate directly to the cone of a speaker, letting you vibrate the plate at whatever frequency you like. Our DIY version is similar: using a cellphone app, we can play whatever sounds we want and the pressure from our phone’s speakers will vibrate the balloon diaphragm at the same frequency. If you tried using different materials with the same frequency, you probably noticed that the pattern created doesn’t change - this is because the placement of the nodes only depends on the material used to create the diaphragm and the frequency of the tone. Now that you’ve gotten a better understanding of cymatics and the science behind Chladni plates, feel free to come up with your own experiments using your new plate. Try using music from different genres to see how the patterns change. Chladni plates aren’t just a cool science experiment either: they’re an important part of building instruments like violins and guitars (and even “xyla”- phones). When you’re building an acoustic instrument, the resonating body is the only source of sound. This means that you don’t want anything to get in the way of your resonating waves. However, there still needs to be supports and frames that hold the instrument together; with the help of Chladni’s research, you can use sand to find the nodes of an instrument’s resonating surface, then put your supports at points where there’s no vibrations anyway. This makes for a stronger, better sounding instrument, and has been used by luthiers for centuries.

Plates and diaphragms like the one we built here work a lot like instruments whose bodies resonate, but what about wind instruments that don’t vibrate? That’s where Rubens‘ tubes come in: using flaming propane gas, Rubens’ tubes can show where the nodes are based on sound pressure instead of vibrations of a surface. Just like with our Chladni plate, the points where the sound pressure is constant will have tall flames and the areas with oscillating sound pressures will have lower flames. If you want to learn more, or see a Rubens’ tube in action, check out our video about them on YouTube! Chladni plates and Rubens tubes are just two ways of combining science, engineering, and art. We think its awwesome that you can use physics to make beautiful things, and can use music to better understand the world around us. Art and science are two sides to the same coin - just like the title of our Tesla coil video, its all about finding what “resonates” with your interests (bad pun, not sorry). If you only take one thing away from this project, it should be that science doesn’t have to be inaccessible and it’s actually pretty easy to do your own experiments at home. For an extra challenge, think of another scientific instrument that interests you and try to build it using whatever materials you can find around your house - and for more projects like this, be sure to check out our videos on YouTube, our website at, and keep an eye out for more of our projects in future issues of Reinvented Magazine!


Hey teachers, did you know that this project meets some Next Generation Science Standards? We try to include an educational component in each of our projects, so make sure to check out our website at for more NGSS and Common Core compliant lesson plans. PS4.A: Wave Properties - Sound can make matter vibrate, and vibrating matter can make sound. 1-PS4-1: Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.


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BOARD Organizations You Should Know O H W S N A I B LES S E I L L A & Â H C TE
















Ask Gloria Gloria Kimbwala is CEO and founder of Shule, a startup that tokenizes international experiential learning systems in decentralized education. Previously to venturing out on her own, she was Square's University Tech Evangelist where she focused on helping connect people to the tools, programs, and support they need to enter the technology industry. This includes leading programs such as Square's Code Camps, an immersion program that supports college women in pursuing careers in technology. She was recently named on the Top Ten Women in Fintech by Fintech Ranking. Her nontraditional path into technology includes a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and a Master's degree in Computer Science. Gloria is the Technical Advisor on the Society of Women Coder's (SOWCoder's) Board which brings technical skills to women across the globe. In her spare time, you can find her coding with her sons, doing yoga, and playing the drums.

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN CODING BUT DON'T KNOW WHERE OR HOW TO START LEARNING? Right now is a great time to be a woman interested in coding because there are many organizations that you can get involved with to help you explore your passion. Girl Develop It, Rails Girls, Women Who Code, Girls Who Code, and Black Girls Code all are great spaces for women to learn to code and have events all over the world. I have seen girls as young as 5 years old learning how to code at such events. There are also great online resources to learn to code if you want to learn on your own., MITScratch, Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and CS50 all are great starting points for learning to code. It's important to be part of a community when you are starting to find a study buddy, study group or meetup to be part of. You can also find a great community in CodeNewbie. If you are learning to code in a location where you are finding it difficult to attend a local event I would recommend joining communities on Twitter, Slack, and Facebook. One thing to remember is it's not about knowing everything but rather about finding what interest you. We all start at zero and move forward from there so don't be afraid to learn something new and ask for help when you need it!

HOW ARE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS INTRODUCING COMPUTER SCIENCE INTO THEIR CLASSROOMS? HOW COULD WE GET MORE SCHOOLS TO INTRODUCE PROGRAMMING AT THE MIDDLE-SCHOOL OR EARLY HIGH SCHOOL LEVELS? HOW CAN WE (HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES) GIVE BACK TO OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN TERMS OF SHARING OUR EXCITEMENT FOR COMPUTING AND EXTENDING AN INVITATION FOR MORE STUDENTS, ESPECIALLY GIRLS AND MINORITIES, TO GET INVOLVED? Wow, What a great question! I am a huge advocate of organizations like CSforAll that advocate for Computer Science Skill being taught in the classroom of children of all ages. I like this approach because it would mean that all children would have an opportunity to learn computer science regardless of whether they had access to a computer at home. From here students would be able to explore more of their passions the courses like robotics, programmable music, digital art and media, capture the flag challenges, and code wars that appeal more to middle and high school age students. These make great electives and wonderful rainy day activities. Most of all it provides a great way for those who have a deeper understanding of the technology to give back to their local communities through mentoring. This is particularly important for women and minorities who often looking for examples of women like them that share the same interest. So if you have a passion for Computer Science consider returning to your local middle and high school and share what you do. Chances are, you might be planting the seed for the next generation.


HOW DO YOU FORM MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS WITH OTHER EMPLOYEES AT YOUR COMPANY AS AN INTERN? Spend time with your colleagues away from the project: This can be lunch with your team or hanging out after work with others that aren’t from your team. If your organization has a Women Engineer group join it if they don’t look into hosting a Women Engineer Lunch. Find other Employee Resource Groups that represent communities you identify with and join them. Job shadow someone that does a role that interest you: I always really enjoyed shadowing the hardware engineering team because it was so different from what I did as a software engineer. Seek Mentorship: Ask that expert engineer for time on their calendar and come with questions or pair program with the engineer you admire. It’s important to always keep the door open because you never know where the conversation will lead!

Chances are, you might be planting the seed for the next generation.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE FOR BALANCING MENTAL HEALTH WITH WORK IN THE STEM/TECH INDUSTRY? According to the University of Waterloo, Women in STEM fields are more likely to report higher levels of stress and anxiety and higher incidences of depression. One reason that attributes to this is that with fewer women in STEM there comes a sense that you don’t belong which can also lead to more stress. This being said there is a couple of things that you can do to put you in the best mental state. Eating right, getting exercise, spending time with friends or enjoying a hobby are all important for your mental health. It’s also important to be a humane engineer. Be open and honest with yourself and those around you. Also, check-in on others and be open to those who check in on you. Don’t be afraid to take personal days when you need them. Decompress on the weekends and use up that vacation time!! Seek professional help! I can not stress this enough! In my ideal world, everyone would have free access to mental help professional as they help us find tools to cope with the stress in our lives. If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend, co-worker or loved one, or would like emotional support the Lifeline Network is available 24/7 across the United States at 800-273-8255 or online at

Want to ask Gloria a question?

I'VE BEEN TOLD BEFORE THAT I GOT INTERNSHIP OFFERS BECAUSE COMPANIES WANTED DIVERSITY RECRUITMENTHOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT KIND OF STATEMENT? HOW DO I STOP MYSELF FROM FEELING INADEQUATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THINGS LIKE THAT? Unfortunately, this is said often to women and minorities. The truth of the matter is it’s difficult to get a role in tech and if you receive an offer it’s because you earned it. The expectations of you are the same as every other intern at the company and you were extended an offer because they believed you could do the job. It also sounds like you might be having a little Impostor Syndrome. Impostor syndrome is when individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a fear of being exposed as a "fraud". It’s important to remember how hard you worked to get to where you are. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve your accomplishments!


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