"This Girl Can" Engages Girls in STEM Fields
"This Girl Can" Workshop Series Engages Girls in STEM Fields
Posted on 12/12/2019
Student weldingThe Bay Link Manufacturing ® program at West High School is doing its part to engage young women in exploring careers in the areas of manufacturing and engineering. Each year, local girls are invited to take part in a free workshop series called “This Girl Can.” The free workshops are designed to be engaging and educational, while exposing girls to the many career opportunities available in our region. 

This Girl Can participants have created metal art using basic welding skills, wooden signs using a CNC machine, built garden beds using carpentry skills, and many more exciting projects. Girls in grades 7-9 are invited to attend the workshops with a special adult female. This person could be a mother, grandmother, older sister, aunt, female mentor, etc. 

Andy Belongia is the instructor of Bay Link Manufacturing ®, a manufacturing learning lab for students located in West High School. Bay Link is equipped to complete projects for local companies in the areas of industrial welding, machine fabrication and metals. Juniors and seniors at any Green Bay Area Public School District school are eligible to apply for entrance into the program. Students receive high school credit as well as college credit from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) upon completion of the program.

Since the inception of This Girl Can in the 2016-17 school year, Belongia has seen the benefits of introducing girls to the engineering and manufacturing fields. “Since we started This Girl Can, it has been rewarding to see a few of the girls enroll in our Bay Link Manufacturing ® program when they are old enough,” said Belongia. “This Girl Can allows students to get comfortable with a new skill in a safe, controlled environment. Often they realize they are pretty good at welding, and it opens up a whole new career path for them.”

Due to the level of interest in This Girl Can, workshop offerings have been expanded to other schools across the Green Bay Area Public School District. 

Belongia would like to see more girls enroll in Bay Link Manufacturing ®, as the job opportunities in welding and manufacturing in Wisconsin are plentiful. “Many of our Bay Link Manufacturing ® students have a job in their desired field right out of high school, and some work while they attend NWTC to continue their education,” said Belongia. “These fields offer high-wage, family-supporting positions that you can make a career out of.”

To learn more about Bay Link Manufacturing ® and This Girl Can, visit gbaps.org/baylinkmanufacturing.
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