By Jade Kim, Student Success Specialist

Base 11 recently hosted 30 middle school girls at the Base 11 Innovation Center in Compton, CA, where they got hands-on experience working with makerspace equipment and learned all about what it means to be a woman in STEM.

Project Payload scholars designing mission badges for their cubesats.

“It was an amazing experience to see these young ladies have such self-awareness at an early age, the ability to take the lesson, immediately apply teamwork and creativity, and have an outcome in the Makerspace,” said Base 11 Innovation Center Program Manager Teniel Jones.

Through a partnership with USC and Base 11, the Project Payload scholars will design and build a mini-satellite called a cubesat that will ultimately be launched on a weather balloon and gather data in early 2020.

Project Payload mentor Rojan helps students execute their creative visions.

One of the lab sessions at the Innovation Center involved the girls splitting into four teams and creating a mission badge for their cubesats that they would ultimately learn to program into a vinyl cutter and print out. Moreno Valley College’s STEM Director Donnell Layne led the lesson.

“Working in the Compton Lab facilitating a workshop with Project Payload was like stepping into the future. It is wonderful to see the level of engagement from the young women and the excitement that is generated,” said Layne.

The day was rounded out with activities in career exploration and personal development, where they got to hear from various professionals in the STEM fields and explore their own goals. The students then created their own vision boards detailing their aspirations.

“They brought great energy to learning and we were able to provide some conversation around women in STEM, connecting the dots in a way that allows them to dream, have a vision and know that they belong in this field just as much as anyone else. Once you know that opportunities exist and can be created, that targeted energy allows for limitless possibilities!” said Jones.

Lab instructor Donnell Layne teaches the basics of engineering design.

Project Payload is designed to empower historically underrepresented and educationally disadvantaged middle school girls to enter aerospace engineering and computer science fields and to advance their career readiness in technologies of the future, especially rocketry and satellite design and construction.

An integral part of the program is to have the students experience the engineering design process first-hand by working in a lab setting. The Innovation Center provided the perfect fit, with industry standard equipment and experienced lab instructors guiding the girls on the machinery’s best practices.

To learn more about Base 11’s programs, click here.