Sparking the Minds of Young Female Scientists Across Bangladesh
DHAKA, Bangladesh, August 21 - The Asian University for Women (AUW) has taken strides this summer to empower young women in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The AUW Math & Science Summer School, powered by Chevron, selected 61 of the brightest female high school students across Bangladesh to participate in an intensive five-week program focused on STEM subjects. The summer program equipped students with the competence and skills necessary to excel in STEM-oriented further studies and careers.
The AUW Math & Science Summer School concluded with a Closing Ceremony at the Asian University for Women campus in Chittagong, Bangladesh on August 8, 2019. Special guests of the event included Mr. Ismail Chowdhury, Director of Corporate Affairs of Chevron Bangladesh and Mrs. Waseka Ayesha Khan, Member of Parliament, Chattogram, Bangladesh. Mr. Chowdhury commended the initiative and expressed his pleasure with the collaboration between AUW and Chevron. Mrs. Khan believes programs such as this one will actively encourage young Bangladeshi women to engage in STEM education.
The Chief Guest, Hon’ble Minister of Information of the Government of Bangladesh, Dr Hasan Mahmud, addressed the audience, “AUW brings a source of pride for Bangladesh and Chittagong. AUW is a world-class university by all standards and AUW doesn’t only educate women; it empowers women. I encourage you all not just to dream big, but to combine your dreams with your efforts to reach your goals.” Special Guest, Mr. Ismail Chowdhury said, “The AUW Math & Science Summer School Powered by Chevron stands out for two reasons: firstly, it represents Chevron’s efforts to empower Bangladeshi girls, and secondly, it provides STEM education to those who are hungry for success in their lives.”
All students were awarded a Certificate of Merit in recognition of completing the program. Family and friends of the students attended the Closing Ceremony. Two students, Tasnia Raisa Choudhury and Shorna Biswas, received the "Emerging Woman Leader in STEM" Award for their exemplary academic performance and leadership skills.
Tasnia said, “Winning this award means a lot to me because it has made me believe in myself… the diversity here has helped me break out of my shell. This recognition has enhanced my [personal] confidence and self-esteem.” Shorna Biswas said, “I will pursue a PhD one day, and this program has increased my love for science while giving me a network of mentors to guide me.”
“Students of this program are more prepared for university and further qualified for the modern workforce,” said Geoff McConohy, Guest Faculty of the AUW Math & Science Summer School and PhD scholar at Stanford University. “By supporting our students with real-world examples, we can better prepare them for what they will face in the workforce in STEM pathways.”
“It was great how students from diverse backgrounds came together at AUW to pursue a shared interest in math and science. They were enthusiastic and eager to learn from day 1. Over five weeks, the students were able to improve their problem-solving skills, work on their English, and apply their creativity to hands-on projects. They became more accustomed to 'figuring things out' opposed to being told what to do,” said Ranbel Sun, Guest Faculty and Physics Instructor from Phillips Academy, Andover in the U.S.
“The Math & Science Summer School students are bright, capable, and energetic learners who will undoubtedly go on to become leaders in their requisite fields. Over the course of this program, we have seen these students bloom and flourish by challenging themselves – and each other – to grow to their highest potential. I am so pleased by their progress and am eager to see what the future holds for each of them,” says Ethan Goldbach, SAT Instructor.
The curriculum of the Math and Science Summer School focused on Physics, Mathematics, and Bioinformatics. These courses were taught by a cohort of international and local faculty with academic backgrounds from Stanford, MIT, Notre Dame, and the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. A group of visiting undergraduate students helped with peer tutoring and organized many extracurricular activities. The program was also designed to include prominent international scientists and mathematicians who volunteered to provide remote lectures:
• Tim DeVoogd’s Remote Lecture on Neuroscience Professor and Neurobiologist in the Department of Psychology Cornell Arts & Sciences at Cornell University
• Bruce Alberts’ Remote Lecture on the Evolution of Science Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California
• Deborah Hughes Hallett’s Remote Lecture on Calculus Adjunct Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona
• Shomit Ghose’s Remote Lecture on Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship General Partner at Silicon Valley venture fund, ONSET Ventures
• Alan Lightman’s Remote Lecture on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Professor of practice of the humanities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The AUW Math & Science Summer School allowed students to delve deeply into the world of STEM through blended hands-on activities and lectures. Students walk away from this program with a broader understanding of future careers, coupled with enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving.