This July, UAH hosted its first-ever Tech Trek, a weeklong residential camp to promote interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields among rising eighth-grade girls. And by every measure, says Camp Director Dr. Rhonda Gaede, it proved to be an unqualified success.
"On Sunday, the girls were names on forms to me; by Friday, they were friends that I hated to see go," says Dr. Gaede, who also serves as an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UAH. "On more than one occasion, parents used the words 'life changing' and 'once in a lifetime' about the camp."
That's because Tech Trek offered students the freedom to be creative - a freedom missing from most middle school curriculums. "The girls said that, at school, it was about getting the right answers. But at Tech Trek, it was about exploring possibilities and understanding that failure is part of the process," she says. "The process is so much more important than any answer, because the questions are going to change during the course of a forty-year career."