Tech Trek New Mexico 

Tech Trek New Mexico is a week long camp at New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro, NM for girls who are passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). 

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The Santa Fe branch has committed $5000 per year, for a period of five years beginning 2019 from the Philip F. May Fund to Tech Trek New Mexico.

Tech Trek helps get girls on right path to a future in science

  • Lynn Heffron
  • Sep 24, 2023 published in the Santa Fe New Mexican

We are all familiar with the ongoing statistics that remind us that the educational empowerment of New Mexico students remains a critical goal that we all need to support. How can we excite and motivate our youth to know that education can improve their decision-making abilities, help them reimagine their economic and social futures and better their skills for self-advocacy?

The education profession has long recognized that our youths’ different learning styles benefit when practicing skills and developing good habits outside of the traditional classroom.

Welcome to a fascinating and proven extracurricular environment provided to young women throughout our state that encourages meeting new people, developing networks and collaborating with peers to create new ways of thinking, and achieve personal and academic success. Welcome to the American Association of University Women New Mexico Tech Trek, a STEM camp in Socorro at New Mexico Tech for upcoming eighth grade girls from around the state.

What is the driving force for Tech Trek? First, it is supercharging an equitable academic and digital future by providing a social structure that does not exacerbate inequities but breaks science, technology, engineering and math gender stereotypes. Encouraging young women to actively listen, critically think and collaboratively imagine and explore life’s possibilities remain program hallmarks. Tech Trek offers a comfortable, welcoming college campus environment where freedom of expression and opinion and respect for all cultures and perspectives prevail.

Since 2014, 517 girls have attended camp at New Mexico Tech. Even COVID-19 did not stop us; we conducted two camps online in 2020 and 2021. In 2023, science and math teachers from around New Mexico nominated 207 girls to participate.

This year, six young women from Santa Fe joined 54 other young women from 24 cities and towns, including Zuni Pueblo, to attend camp. The Academy for Technology and the Classics, Santa Fe Girls School, the Santa Fe School for Arts and Science and Pojoaque Valley Middle School were among the 38 schools to send campers.

This June, Tech Trek core classes included A Tour Life of the Stellar Cycle of Life, Digital Game Design, Tech to Help My World, Become a Mathematical Thinker, and A World In Motion. Complementing classes were the Engineering Expo, Math Gala, An Evening of Fractals, the Game of Life and Professional New Women STEM panels.

Our camp runs in New Mexico, but we are not alone. In March 2023, the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City recognized AAUW’s New Mexico Tech Trek as a best practice in STEM education for girls. My presentation, “Empowering Girls in the Digital Age,” addressed this year’s theme, asking all nations to achieve gender equality through the innovation and technological education of all women and girls in this digital age.

The U.N. has recognized that by 2050, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM areas. Women hold just 33% of positions in artificial intelligence today. Education on how to resist online violence must also be included.

The U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women is the largest global gathering of gender equality champions, and now Tech Trek and our talented students are partners in a globally honored educational community. We have laid a pathway for the futures of our girls, who are now part of an international and intergenerational connectedness.

Here’s a special thanks to our teachers, directors, staff, nurse, counselors and individual and corporate donors. Together, we can continue to create and celebrate the empowerment of girls and women.

Lynn Heffron is the co-president of American Association of University Women New Mexico and a tutor in Santa Fe Public Schools’ AVID program.