Penn State Fayette hosts 8th annual STEAM event for ninth graders

Future4U presented virtually to engage young students in interactive workshops with Fayette faculty

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, hosted Future4U: A Virtual Exploration of STEAM Career Opportunities on March 11 for the eighth consecutive year.

The event, sponsored by the Penn State Fayette Commission for Women (CFW), engaged 175 ninth-grade girls from the Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Laurel Highlands, and Uniontown school districts in a series of 30-minute, interactive workshops to develop skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).

Workshops were led by Penn State Fayette faculty members. Students learned heart-rate measurement, the use of statistical models to test hypotheses, the role of chemistry research in understanding and solving the COVID-19 pandemic, and principles of theater improvisation.

Current 2+2 student Jessica Victor and alumna Rachel Miller shared their experiences as women in STEAM fields.

“I always enjoyed physics and chemistry in high school,” said Victor, a graduate of Albert Gallatin High School who studies chemical engineering at University Park. “As a student at Fayette, I did undergraduate research with Dr. Julio Palma, studying how to calculate different properties of molecules using a computer software system, which was a new experience for me.”

Miller, a graduate of Connellsville Area High School, graduated in 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in Earth and Mineral Science. Today, she works in the geotech industry, identifying and testing rock samples for the designing of bridges and roads.

“Penn State was my dream school, and always knew I was going to Penn State,” said Miller. “It turns out it’s one of the best schools in the country for geology. Starting my education at Fayette before going on to University Park was one of the best decisions I made.”

Charles Patrick, chancellor and chief academic officer, asked the young audience to consider preparing for college as soon as possible. With exposure to career opportunities in STEAM disciplines at the ninth-grade level, students are more likely to incorporate related coursework into their high school and higher education decisions.

“Our faculty and staff can help you set a path to get you into a degree program in a STEAM field, perhaps here at Penn State Fayette,” he said.