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How this former NASA engineer needs to make STEM youth schooling extra accessible

August
30, 2020

5 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

Before Aisha Bowe accidentally found her major, she had no idea what she was going to do with her life. But when she got a perfect score on her math exam after a night of partying, her professor saw something in her that she didn't see: potential.

He said to Bowe, "I really think you should go home and think about doing something different with your life."

Bowe began to think deeply about the direction she was going with her life and had some profound realizations.

She realized that she had let herself into certain stereotypes that led her to believe she was not good enough to do something big with her life. This became their limiting story.

Bowe decided to write down the life she wanted to manifest for herself. Their schedule was clear: go to the University of Michigan, study aerospace engineering, and find a job at NASA.

She decided to move to university from a community college. While studying at the University of Michigan, Bowe was offered her dream job at NASA. However, she declined because she did not value herself or believed she was good enough to work at NASA.

A few weeks later the director of NASA's engineering program, who had previously offered her the job, spoke to Bowe a few weeks later after a conference and told her, "When your semester is over, you will come back and work for us."

And that's exactly what she decided to do.

Related: Leadership lessons from NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson, who has just turned 100

STEMboard

In the early years Bowe worked at NASA, she attended local schools to share the mission they had to inspire students in the ward. When she started attending schools, she noticed something: Before she could explain NASA's mission, the students couldn't get over the fact that she was an aerospace engineer who worked for NASA because she wasn't into the narration of a fit typical engineer.

Seeing the kids' interest in engineering, Bowe created a shadow day for students so they could see what engineering was about. The kids were given a full tour of the NASA facility so they could learn and be inspired.

Knowing that there is something powerful about exposing students to technology, she began to wonder, “How can I create a company that is not only sustainable but can also help enhance the technical skills of the people who work there. to develop and at the same time give something back to our communities? "

By 2013, Bowe and her business partner decided to take on their own engineering contracts from federal and retail customers through their company STEMboard, which meant their careers at NASA were over.

Bowe began using some of the money she made from her company on educational programs for underprivileged students.

Over the past seven years, even without the support of venture capitalists, her company has grown into an education department with a line of products designed to inspire young people worldwide to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) regardless of their background or career. to keep track of lack of resources.

Related: Do You Have What It Takes To Mars? NASA is now recruiting new astronauts.

slang

Every year, Bowe and her team go to the Bahamas to train about a hundred students in engineering and technology. While there, she noticed that most of the students had never before faced building basic hardware or technology, so Bowe decided to purchase all of the student kits.

One of the students Bowe will never forget was named Sal. He was a bright student who attended the workshop every year. Sal received the same kit as the other students, but when Bowe returned the following year, she noticed that his kit looked different.

He explained to Bowe how he could use the kit she bought him to win a scientifically fair project. In the end, he innovated the kit and created a laser pointer modification by removing additional parts from his community. There are no limits to the imagination.

Inspired by this testimony, Bowe told her team that they needed to refine the kit so that it could be accessed by more people at home. She wanted a video-assisted kit that ran at her own pace and would allow a learner who had no academic support at home to learn about science, technology, engineering, or math.

Although thousands of students have benefited from the educational programs through their company STEMboard, their team felt that this was not enough. Her team focused on bringing the joy of technology, science, and engineering to youth everywhere, and created Lingo to offer these self-determined building sets.

Bowe is focused on scaling the Lingo platform to make it more accessible to schools and educational programs. She is deeply passionate about offering science and technology concepts to students around the world from every socio-economic background.

She hopes to create a repeatable model that other companies can adopt to solve problems not just for their business but for the world.

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