Foundation article for July issue of SEMI Global Update

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SEMI Foundation Delivers First All Girl High Tech U In New Mexico; Craig Barrett Visits, Encourages Girls To Continue Math And Science Studies

The SEMI Foundation selected Albuquerque for its first New Mexico High Tech U program, which introduced 30 female high school students from around the state to the science of making semiconductors and to career opportunities in high tech industries. The program, delivered May 31-June 2 at Intel’s Rio Rancho facility, was visited by a number of dignitaries including Intel Chairman of the Board Craig Barrett, and Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM). Barrett commended the girls on their focus and dedication to learning and encouraged them to continue heir studies in math and science.

The program was sponsored by Intel and Air Products, which operate facilities in New Mexico, as well as Sandia National Laboratories. Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI), the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education, the University of New Mexico, and Doña Ana Branch Community College were educational partners. Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC) delivered the program as part of the SEMI Foundation’s High Tech U replication project.

The case for all girl learning environments. The all girl program tackled head on the fact that fewer females than males pursue math and science based careers in the US. This was the first time a High Tech U program has been delivered in New Mexico, and the first for young women only. It was designed to test an emerging body of evidence that young women and men may learn better in a same gender environment.

“Single-sex education has been the subject of increasing interest among researchers, and several major reports have detailed the ways in which all-girl learning environments can be beneficial,” said SEMI Foundation Vice President Lisa Anderson. As an example she cited the book Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling, by Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone, a professor at St. John's University School of Law. In the book Salomone notes, "All-girls settings seem to provide girls a certain comfort level that helps them develop greater self-confidence and broader interests, especially as they approach adolescence. Research has found that single-sex schools and classes promote less-gender-polarized attitudes toward certain subjects – math and science in the case of girls and language arts and foreign languages in the case of boys."

According to Anderson, the all girl format was a huge success. “The girls clearly behave differently when boys are not present,” said Anderson. “They seemed more focused, more confident, and they asked lots of really good questions.”

High Tech U participant Kristen Henriksen, 16, an incoming junior at Rio Rancho High, said that she has always had an interest in engineering, and High Tech U definitely made an impact. "I have learned how they make chips," she said. "I am considering this field now.”

Hamilton Shattuck, Intel’s New Mexico education relations manager, expressed his pleasure with the overall outcome of this first-time event in the state. “I believe High Tech U was a very successful event and many new ideas were introduced to girls who attended,” he said. “Having Craig Barrett speak to the girls was definitely one of the highlights of the event.”

Representative Wilson a role model for girls. Representative Heather Wilson inspired the girls with her remarks at the High Tech U graduation ceremony, emphasizing the importance of education in math, science and engineering, and talking about the importance of a solid education in today’s competitive workforce. One of the most senior women in congress, Wilson, represents the 1st district of New Mexico, which is centered in Albuquerque. Her Congressional committee assignments include membership on the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is also Chair of the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence.

“We were extremely honored that Representative Wilson participated in this event. She is a wonderful role model for all of us — and especially for young women like these local high school students,” said Anderson, who noted that Wilson’s achievements include graduation from the Air Force Academy, a Doctorate in International Relations, studies at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and service as the former Director for European Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council staff at the White House. “She is living proof that there are no limits to what women in our society can achieve.”

Anderson said that more same gender High Tech U programs might be held in the future, but near term, most will continue to be coeducational.