January SWENexter Meet & Greet

This fall, Zoey founded the first SWENext Middle School club in San Diego, CA at her school. She was inspired by a Girl Scout event that she attended last year at the DRS Daylight Solutions, which is a local company that works with mid-infrared sources and systems. Her hope for the SWENext club she founded is that it will inspire other girls to become interested in engineering and coding. So far, she has some successes to celebrate, including organizing a meeting where she had two guest speakers from DRS Daylight Solutions. Zoey has amazing visions for her club, and we are excited to see where her journey with SWENext takes her and her fellow club members.

Meet Zoey, NVMS SWENext Club Founder and SWENexterZoey_SWENexter

This fall, I started the first SWE Next Middle School club in San Diego, CA at my school. I was inspired by a girl scout event I attended last year at DRS Daylight Solutions, a local company that works with mid-infrared sources and systems.

Years before, when I was in elementary school, I joined Math Olympiad and Junior First Lego League hoping to get involved in engineering or science clubs outside of school. Unfortunately, I was not encouraged to continue and I was frustrated with the competition and pressure. I’m an honor roll student and I enjoy a challenge but at that time I felt this wasn’t a path for me. Then in 2019, my mom signed me and my sister up for a Girl Scout half day event at DRS Daylight Solutions without telling me. I was frustrated when we showed up and no one else from my girl scout troop was there.  However, it turned out to be so much fun! We did some light experiments, played with bubbles and prisms, listened to some of the women engineers who worked there share their experience at college and in the field of engineering and at DRS Daylight Solutions, and finished with a fun laser maze game. This event made me interested in engineering.

Now that I’m in 8th grade, I decided to start a middle school SWENext club because I wanted to inspire other girls who may be similar to me. Girls who are smart and/or maybe interested in STEM, yet haven’t yet been able to learn about the world of engineering. My older brother, who’s now in college, always tells me how there are so many clubs in high school. I thought it would be better to start a club in middle school, when there’s less pressure and more time to explore and have fun.

Last month on November 19th, I was able to have guest speakers Tom Watson and Cynthia Maley from DRS Daylight Solutions atJanuary SWENexter Meet & Greet SWENexter my virtual SWENext club meeting. I was excited that this company was not only going to supply my first club company guest speakers but also could share a little of how they inspired me before with their engineering stories and experiences.  Ms. Maley shared with us how she first started off studying botany/plants and then changed to get a masters in physics. She loves photography and helped us to see that light, which may not at first seem significant, is very important within our hobbies and daily life. She also shared with us other cool inventions, such as smart eye contact lens, and people she met like Futurist Shara Evans at the 2019 SWE convention in Anaheim, CA. She helped spark our interest in engineering and encouraged us all to keep joining engineering challenges, listen to other women engineering speakers, and stay engaged in the STEM fields. She also gave us the idea that whatever our passion is, it might be possible to see engineering in it or part of creating it. One of my passions lies with creating art. After Ms. Maley’s talk about smart eye contact lens, I created my own digital art version of using lasers in correcting eye vision!

In the next few months, our club plans on having either a virtual or in-person tour of a local automotive design company, starting a green environmental challenge, and teaching younger students to code.


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