Toyota USA Foundation helps inspire young women to pursue STEM fields with $150,000 grant to Tech Trek Alabama

David Fernandes, Dr. Robert Altenkirch, Dr. Rhonda Gaede, Aditi Limaye, Macie Holder, and Zerahiah Joseph

Toyota Alabama president David Fernandes announces a $150,000 donation from Toyota USA Foundation in support of Tech Trek Alabama. Also pictured: UAH president Dr. Robert Altenkirch, camp director Dr. Rhonda Gaede, and former campers Aditi Limaye, Macie Holder, and Zerahiah Joseph.

Michael Mercier | UAH

More Alabama girls will soon have an opportunity to explore education in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation announced today at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Toyota’s donation will support and help grow Tech Trek Alabama, a weeklong residential camp for rising eighth-grade girls that provides intensive hands-on experiments and STEM-based activities including building robots, developing apps, and studying cybersecurity.


Tech Trek Alabama, a weeklong residential camp for rising eighth-grade girls, provides intensive hands-on experiments and STEM-based activities.

An American Association of University Women (AAUW) program, Tech Trek was launched in 1998 and has since expanded to 20 sites, including to Alabama in 2014. Last year, 65 students (representing 39 schools) participated in Tech Trek Alabama, which is offered in partnership by UAH and the Huntsville branch of the AAUW at a cost of only $50 per person. This provides an opportunity for students who might have difficulty paying more.

"Interest in Tech Trek has grown in the three years we have been holding the camp," says Dr. Rhonda Gaede, camp director and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UAH. "Increasing the number of counties served and selecting a group of campers who reflect the demographics of the state are priorities in our fourth year."

STEM education is a focus area for Toyota’s community outreach efforts. "We are committed to investing in students, helping to provide them with the best opportunity to succeed," said Toyota Alabama president David Fernandes. "We want to support programs that provide students with exciting opportunities in STEM to help cultivate the next generation of engineers, researchers, and science leaders."

UAH president Dr. Robert Altenkirch echoed Fernandes’ appreciation for the program. "Tech Trek Alabama has been instrumental in enabling girls across the state to envision themselves in professional careers they may otherwise have never thought of or thought unattainable – from scientists and software developers to engineers and cybersecurity experts," he said. "With its generous donation, Toyota is helping to expand the horizons of even more deserving young STEM enthusiasts as they congregate on the UAH campus each summer."

This year’s Tech Trek Alabama will be held June 18-24 on the UAH campus.


Katie Thurston
UAH Office of Advancement

Kim Ogle
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama


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