UAH and AAUW-Huntsville branch to host third-annual Tech Trek camp June 12-18


Campers from the past two years shared their experiences with those who will take part in this year’s Tech Trek camp.

Camille Woods | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is pleased to announce the return of Tech Trek, an American Association of University Women (AAUW) program, to the UAH campus from June 12 to June 18. A weeklong residential camp, Tech Trek features intensive hands-on experiments and activities to promote interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields among rising eighth-grade girls.

"I am excited to be headed into our third Tech Trek camp season!" says Michele Tisler, an alumna of UAH's College of Nursing who is serving as this year's Social Media Coordinator. "I have seen such transformative experiences for the campers over the past two years - the shy ones who find their voice surrounded by their peers and the outgoing ones who shine as peer leaders."

And the safe environment for self-expression that the camp provides is just as rewarding for its volunteers, she adds. "Tech Trek not only allows the girls to grow, but it also allows the staff to be able to have purposeful and intentional interactions with the campers. Giving girls the confidence and direction to influence the future of STEM - that is the best part."


Campers registered for this year’s Tech Trek took part in a collaborative challenge called “Nail It” at the camp’s meet-and-greet event held on Saturday, May 21.

Camille Woods | UAH

Participants of the 2016 camp will enjoy courses on topics including NASA robotics, cybersecurity, app design and creation, and rocket launching; field trips to aerospace giant PPG Industries and the iconic U.S. Space & Rocket Center; workshops on careers in science and preparing for college; a collaborative project with Nexus and Tiny House, and a Professional Women's Night that will be hosted by and take place at Adtran.

In anticipation of this year's Tech Trek, a meet-and-greet event was held on May 21 for the camp's registered participants, which includes 65 girls from 39 schools across 17 counties. "We were able to introduce many of this year's campers to each other, gather a lot of paperwork and give parents an opportunity to answer questions about the camp," says Dr. Rhonda Gaede, Camp Director and an associate professor in UAH's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

And for the first time, Tech Trek campers from previous years were invited to return and share their experiences. "We had 13 campers from 2014 and 2015 who were able to come and several others who wanted to but had scheduling conflicts," she says. "But if the passion and excitement of those who did take part is any indication, Tech Trek has left an enduring mark on them."

To keep the cost of the camp to a modest $50 per person, Tech Trek relies on the support of several national sponsors, including AAUW, Verizon, Lockheed Martin, and Symantec. Additional support is provided at the local level from PPG Aerospace, UAH's College of Engineering, AAUW-Huntsville, Jacobs Engineering, Adtran, PeopleTec, Women in Defense, UAH's College of Science, Dr. N. Jan Davis, Ms. Ruth Jurenko, and Ms. Eleanor Lienau.

Volunteers are also essential to its success, and include the following planning committee members:

  • Dr. Rhonda Gaede, Camp Director (Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UAH)
  • Dr. Jennifer English, Fundraising Coordinator (Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UAH)
  • Dr. Laurie Joiner, Family and Students Coordinator (Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UAH)
  • Michele Tisler, Social Media Coordinator (UAH College of Nursing Graduate, 2014 and 2015 Camp Health Aide)
  • Cindi Branham, Volunteer Coordinator (Co-President and Outreach Director for AAUW-Huntsville)
  • Dr. Molly W. Johnson, Marketing Coordinator (Associate Professor, History, and Director of Women's and Gender Studies, UAH)
  • Dr. Sandra Lampley, Curriculum Coordinator (Assistant Professor, Education, UAH)
  • Dr. Tingting Wu (Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UAH)
  • Dr. Sarah Roller (Assistant Professor of Education, UAH)
  • Dana Gideon (AAUW-Huntsville Co-President)
  • Katy Kolasinski (UAH College of Engineering Graduate, AAUW-Huntsville Secretary)
  • Camille Woods (Master's student in Atmospheric Science, UAH)
  • Katherine Luecht (UAH College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Graduate)
  • Nikita Jones (Biology Major, UAH)
  • Laura Burke (Psychology Major, UAH)
  • Shonice Pitts (Communications Major, UAH)
  • Sh'KeyriaTurner (Biology and Exercise Physiology Major, UAH)

Tech Trek at UAH is one of 21 nationwide camps, which together will serve more than 1,600 students this year. AAUW of California founded Tech Trek in 1998, and in 2012, the AAUW national organization started the National Tech Trek Pilot Program to give girls across the country access to this rich learning experience. UAH-AAUW's first Tech Trek was held in 2014.


Dr. Rhonda Gaede