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Virtual STEAM Education Workshop for Seattle-Area Youth

Unfazed by the challenges of a pandemic, City Light teamed up with the SPIN Girls program for a second year to produce a STEAM in Power Workshop. And not surprisingly, it went virtual this year.

A screenshot of the event participants over Zoom

City Light’s Uzma Siddiqi, grid modernization team supervisor, and Chris Armstrong, internal communications advisor, were eager to work again with the team from STEM Paths Innovation Network (SPIN), a Seattle non-profit dedicated to creating equity and opportunities for youth to succeed in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) fields. The collaboration resulted in a Dec. 5 event adapted to fit a Zoom environment.

More than 50 eighth- and ninth-grade SPIN Girls students and their mentors participated in the interactive workshop, which included a brief introduction to City Light, an overview of Seattle’s Shared Energy Future, and an Electricity 101 lesson. The young women teamed up for hands-on activities, creating image collages that envision the world’s energy future and building electrical circuits with an online construction kit.

The event culminated with a meet-and-greet activity featuring 14 women from across the utility representing a variety of STEAM fields, including electrical engineering, skilled trades, climate science, renewable energy, race and social justice, and power marketing.

“2020 has been an extremely difficult year for students and for education. It makes engaging students during our SPIN Girls events all the more important, as we try to mitigate the learning loss they experience,” said Nell DyTang, SPIN Girls program manager. “Despite the challenges of the virtual environment, Chris and Uzma went above and beyond to provide an informative, captivating, and unique event that introduced the girls to the world of Seattle City Light and all the career possibilities available there. Their enthusiasm for their work is clear, and even through Zoom, I could feel that energy spread to our mentors and students.”

That enthusiasm was fueled in large part by City Light employees, all women, who joined the event for meet-and-greet discussions with the students.

“It makes me so excited for the future of female engineers,” said Jessica Coleman, electrical engineering supervisor. “I didn’t discover electrical engineering until I was 30 years old because I was never exposed to engineers in school or at home growing up. Getting to talk to students and hopefully spark some deeper interest and dispel preconceived ideas about what an engineer should look like is one of the most rewarding parts of my work here at City Light.”

Perhaps now more than ever, we recognize how essential it is to inspire, mentor, and lift up others in our community. 

Thanks to our SPIN Girls partners Nell DyTang, Lena-Phuong Tran, and all the mentors and students who joined us for another successful event.