Pacific STEM Conference Honors 30 Years With In-Person Conference

Purple shirts overflowed the De Rosa University Center at the University of the Pacific on Saturday morning for the San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference. The event aims to inspire girls and share insight into the world of science and math.

Ubiquitous Electronics, Amazing Everyday Chemistry, and Chemistry Behind Winemaking are just a few of 15 different workshops offered at this year’s conference for girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Programs like this help them understand what it means to be an engineer. What does it mean to be a computer scientist? And how can you use these things to make a difference in the world, because a lot of these kids just want to make a difference,” said Elizabeth Orwin, dean of the University of the Pacific’s department of engineering and computer science. . “They want to do something that makes sense for their communities.”

More than 300 girls in purple shirts from San Joaquin County schools in grades 6 through 12 attended this year’s conference.

“These types of programs can be life changing,” said Dr. Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Marissa Garduno is no stranger to the conference. She attended this year as part of a group of 10 other students who participated with the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) mentor group, Stockton Chapter.

The 15-year-old, 10th-year student at Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy said she plans to further her education by studying Earth Science in college and learning ‘more about the Earth’ .

“Knowing things like that and how I can help the environment, because the things that are happening in the world are really concerning and they concern me for my future,” Garduno said.

Students do computer work at the 30th annual Expanding Your Horizons conference which focuses on STEM fields for girls at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on Saturday November 5, 2022. This is the first time an event in person takes place since 2019.

She participated in the Amazing Everyday Chemistry workshop led by Fowzia Zaka, a chemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They worked on what was called a “Diaper Wars experiment”. They compared “regular diapers” to “cotton diapers” comparing which were the most absorbent.

“We try to make science fun,” Zaka said.

Orwin said that while the number of Pacific women in the School of Engineering and Computer Science is around 25%, which is “higher than the national engineering average,” they are still striving to increase the numbers.

After two years of virtual conferences, the University of the Pacific has once again hosted the in-person conference to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

“They’re really fun and a lot of people think they’re not fun because it’s science. But you do a lot of fun stuff, meet new people and just have fun working with other people. said Citlaly Muñoz, a grade 11 student at Lathrop High School.

The 16-year-old said it was her fifth appearance at the conference. At first, a career in science was not on his radar. But her continued attendance at conferences sparked an interest in her to pursue a career in science.

Muñoz participated in the Ubiquitous Electronics workshop led by Michael Taranowski, an electrical engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The students worked on a game or heart display where they had to assemble all the parts of a kit and learn how to solder.

Liliana Luna, a 7th grader from Washington Elementary, learns to weld during the 30th annual Expanding Your Horizons conference which focuses on STEM fields for girls at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on Saturday, November 5, 2022. It' is the first time an in-person event has taken place since 2019.

“Most students graduate and have a working screen or game. Whatever the kit, Taranowski said. “It’s a sense of accomplishment, and they can claim they’ve brought them together.”

The University of the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories sponsored the conference.

“I think these programs give young women the idea that maybe it’s good to take a chemistry class, maybe I can do it. Maybe engineering could be interesting, maybe I’ll explore that. Or I should get a math background, because many careers need that kind of foundation,” Budil said. “And so, hopefully, that will open their eyes to the possibilities and make them a little bit more adventurous as they move forward.”

Record reporter Angelaydet Rocha covers community news in Stockton and San Joaquin County. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelaydetRocha. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at