<hello,w> © Minjung Kim, 2020. All rights reserved.

#27. MJ’s Thesis — Final Thesis Demo

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would very much like to thank the faculties of School of Visual Arts, friends, and family members, especially my mother, for giving me all the encouragement as the most independent woman that I have ever known to aim to further education and to get this far. Most notably, I would like to thank my Thesis Advisor, Deborah, for her endless assistance and psychological safety. Without her help, advice, and support, I might not have ever reached the end of this journey. Considering she has given me insightful advice about problem statements, formatting, organization, and analysis intersectional content for the inclusive content of this project since day one. Also, I would like to thank my committee members for their efforts to make sure our Thesis Festival work was the best it could be; with particular acknowledgement to Eric Forman who pushed this project’s value and innovation as a great professor since the beginning. Special thank you to my wonderful partner, Yonguk who always supports me to achieve my dream as a women and designer.

ABSTRACT

Private and public policies increasingly aim to support efforts to broaden the participation of a diverse body of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the United States. Unfortunately, this increase in student diversity does not always occur alongside institutional changes. Unexamined biases in school or in the household can prevent diverse students from thriving and pursuing in STEM fields. Specifically, the number of teenage girls studying engineering is still the lowest population of the STEM field. As a result, young women are stereotyped in their choice of subjects by schools and households. Even though young women have interests in engineering early, they easily begin to lose it due to the lack of interactions with mentors historically.

In order for minorities in STEM to improve, new information technologies (IT) can offer new opportunities to young women in an attractive and entertaining way to better engage with engineering principles and get inspired by mentors’ career paths, regardless of time and location. Augmented Reality (AR) technology provides virtual experiences and adds enjoyable gaming elements to support textbook materials or to embed in smart devices for educational purposes. Asynchronous video mentoring helps the contemporary generation of young women to cultivate confidence and a positive mindset to pursue an engineering career.

As a result, young women become more engaged and interactive with their interests and mentors in engineering. The first part of this Thesis describes the result of the application of engaging games on <hello,w> based on Augmented Reality for the development of the spatial ability of students who are interested in engineering. The second part presents examples of asynchronous video communication mentoring with female role models in the industry. The use of AR technology and async video communication facilitates the students to achieve practical skills, enhance their confidence, and define the future career path in a much shorter time during their daily life.

Keywords STEM Education, Minority of Engineering, Virtual Mentoring, Video Communication, Augmented Reality, Immersive Training Game.

MOTIVATION

Pycon Coding/Programming Conference 2017 © Minjung Kim, 2020. All rights reserved.

3 years ago, I volunteered for an annual computer programming conference called Pycon. I was in a session room for helping and teaching young coders and I was chatting with one of the young students, and she told me she was nervous because she was one of the only girls there. This is a common theme for girls. Even though they might have an interest in engineering, many are discouraged because it’s not presented to them as a possible career path.

Meanwhile, in fewer than 10 years, Being a woman pursuing a STEM degree in Design and Technology, I realized that there are scores of lamented facts about the gender imbalance in terms of occupation rate, leadership culture, and compensation. In July 2017, I participated in a sprint session as a technical volunteer in a developer conference, Pycon, for young coders. It was an annual gathering for the community programming the software open-source, Python. I looked around the room, and I was feeling nervous because there are not many girls. I met one girl who followed her mother, an engineer. The girl told me, “I like computer games and want to be a software engineer as my mother.” Her eyes glowed as she talked, and thankfully she was getting a proper education and incredible motivation from her mother.

However, I realized that most girls don’t have the same opportunity as she did. This story also made me rethink about when I was an undergraduate student majoring in Visual Design. The design industry used to be a boys club at the top, lacking diversity across both gender and race. With a lack of representation among their role models, underrepresented people can be deterred from pursuing creative positions. Thanks to the pioneering activists before us, this has been changing, and many of designers working today are other women, representing female leadership in the design industry. Whenever I observe and experience the gender gaps in the technology industry after pursuing further study in the field in the United States, I am passionate to address this problem for young women as a designer.

This project represents continuously questioning ourselves and making equality a central topic in our lives for the next creative generation.

In fact, over the last decade, The percentage of young women seeking STEM degrees has decreased since 2000 with the exception of sciences majors.

Today, among STEM fields, only 12 percent of engineers in the U.S. are women. Why are there so few? Almost half of the middle schools and high schools do not tackle gender bias in the choice of subjects. Only 35% of STEM teachers feel confident in giving girls advice about engineering career paths.

In results, teenage girls feel discouraged and stereotyped in their daily life from schools or even parents.

So, my goal is to increase the numbers of teenage girls studying engineering at age 13–18. That’s why I created <hello,w>, a platform encourages young women to pursue engineering career paths. with engaging games, useful resources, and motivated mentors.

With <hello,w>, young women can enjoy learning, get inspired, set the path for success. Thank you.

Fin.

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A platform with AR games and mentors encourages young women to pursue engineering career paths