NEW: STEM Girls Entrepreneur Camp

Carnegie Science Center's Fab Lab

Mon., July 1–Wed., July 3, 9 am–4 pm
Mon., Aug. 12–Wed., Aug. 14, 9 am–4 pm

In this three-day intensive camp, girls will learn what it means to be an entrepreneur while discovering the real-world applications of science, technology, engineering, and math. See how a new idea is cultivated when you explore user-needs, create innovation designs, and learn how to market your start-up business. Utilize digital fabrication technologies in Carnegie Science Center's Fab Lab, including 3D printing, vinyl cutting, and laser cutting to prototype your design.



Fab Lab: Girls Teen Maker Camp

Carnegie Science Center's Fab Lab

Mon., Aug. 5–Tues., Aug. 6, 9 am–4 pm

In this intensive workshop, teen girls of all making levels will be immersed in the digital fabrication technologies of Fab Lab: 3D printing, laser cutting, and other CNC machinery. Fab Lab educators will work with teens to learn, explore, and create using those technologies. Interested teens could sign up for more than one Teen Making Camp to build on their previous knowledge and create more complex projects.


*STEM Spotlight*

Christina Patterson Christina Patterson, 17, a senior at Vincentian Academy, aspires to become an engineer. After realizing that her brother had needs for a wheelchair, Christina became inspired to help him find the best chair that would meet his needs. Christina is currently a research assistant at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the Founder and Co-President of a Society of Women Engineers SWENext Club at Vincentian Academy. She also founded a small tutoring business which she ran since her freshman year, tutoring children in grades K-8 in math. When Christina isn't busy with her studies and all of her extra-curriculars, she enjoys reading and watching local theater performances.

Carnegie STEM Girls Interview with Christina

When did you become interested in engineering?
I’ve been drawn to engineering principles all of my life; once I could walk, I was building forts out of all the pillows and blankets that I could manage. This year, I designed a funnel-shaped part in order to shield an electrical discharge machine from scratches, thus, creating a solution. Each time I calibrated the micrometer to measure segments and operated the lathe to shape materials, I utilized math and physics in order to ensure that the finished pieces fit seamlessly. I love engineering because it’s the crossroads for problem-solving and ingenuity. Mechanical Engineering transforms ideas into tangible solutions.

Christina Patterson works to build a wheelchair ramp for her brother, Scotty.
Christina Patterson works to build a wheelchair ramp for her brother, Scotty.

Was there a particular person or event that influenced your love of engineering?
On a summer day in 2012, after scaling countless hills at the Pittsburgh Zoo, I noticed that my brother Scotty’s feet were scraping against the pavement. One foot slapped the ground, while the other glided in a sort of rhythm. I knew that something was wrong.  “He needs a wheelchair,” my twelve-year-old self insisted, and so began my family’s search for answers. After extensive testing, Scotty was diagnosed with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that was slowly eating away at his muscles from head to toe. Yes, he definitely needed a wheelchair.  I had never studied in school with such vigor as I did wheelchairs for Scotty in the months and years to follow. Power or manual wheelchair? Tilt or recline? Custom-molded or standard seat back? Countless conversations later, with anyone and everyone even remotely familiar with the inner workings of wheelchairs, I still wasn’t fulfilled. I contacted a local engineering lab and pleaded with them to let me take part in their field work. I am elated to be part of a team working on a comprehensive review paper for individuals trialing various assistive devices. Engineering gave me the space to problem solve in a collaborative, innovative way.  With confidence in my research, I rendered my advice to my family. I was able to be a contributing factor in vastly improving Scotty’s independence. My experience has inspired me to pursue engineering, and I am eager to continue my mission of improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Christina and her grandparents upon winning a SWENext Award
Christina has won two different SWENext awards. Here she is pictured with her grandparents.

What made you interested in starting the SWENext Club at Vincentian Academy?
Founding the Vincentian Academy Society of Women Engineers Club allowed me to connect my affinity for the STEM fields with my love of simply rolling up my sleeves after school and brainstorming with my friends. Our team at Vincentian Academy competed in the building challenge “Chain Reaction Contraption Competition” in which we built a machine to accomplish a series of 20 steps by starting with one touch and leaving the machine to run until it reached step 20. In the future, I hope to build on these experiences with other teams in making the world more inclusive for people from all backgrounds, especially those with physical disabilities.

What advice would you give to other females that are interested in engineering or starting a club at their own school?
You have nothing to lose and so much to gain! Taking part in a club in which you’re safe to take risks and try new things pushes you to stretch your boundaries in a very supportive environment.

What do you aspire to be in the future?
I aspire to earn an engineering degree and look forward to continuing to support organizations, namely the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which has given me a platform to connect with female professionals and even mentor young females​. I hope to delve deeper into the field of​ engineering and to continue to support the movement to encourage my talented female counterparts to explore and ultimately enter STEM fields. I intend to use my engineering degree in order to refine my skills in mechanics and construction, and to make inclusive designs that would be both economical and adaptable. I firmly believe that affordability and accessibility to assistive devices should not be limited by fiscal boundaries.

Who are your role-models?
My mother has been a huge support in my decision to enter engineering, and throughout all of my academic pursuits. During times when I questioned my ability to compete with other STEM-focused students, she was always there to reassure me that I had a unique voice which deserved to be heard loudly.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love reading classics and watching them come to life at local performances. Every spring I attend multiple high school musicals. I have a dedicated fund for my favorite Pittsburgh theater- the O’ Reilly.

Are you a girl doing something cool in STEM? We want to know about it! You could get featured in our Spotlight Center! Email to tell us about the amazing things you are doing to change the world!

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