Women in STEAM event Thursday to explore connections between science, art

The impact of women in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) will be at the centre of a networking event taking place Thursday, March 31.

In collaboration with Professional and Continuing Studies at Brock University, the public event is hosted by Innovate Niagara, an organization that provides structure, services and resources to assist those interested in getting ideas off the ground.

It will take place from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Stone Mill Inn, 271 Merritt St. in St. Catharines, and is expected to draw a wide array of new and established innovators, students and business community members.

Women in STEAM will feature keynote speaker Julie Ellis, co-founder of award-winning business Mabels Labels, as well as a panel of women leaders including Renata Dividino, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brock University; Gina Grossi, Professor of Computer Programming, Game Development at Niagara College; and Ivy Truong, illustrator, game developer and business owner.  The panel will be moderated by Beatrice Ombuki-Berman, Interim Chair of Brock’s Yousef Haj-Ahmad Department of Engineering and Professor of Computer Science.

Adding art to the STEM conversation opens doors to exploring fields such as game design, wearable fashion technology and art automation using aspects of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“Events like Women in STEAM are important as Brock continues to seek ways to be responsive to education and learning in all fields,” said April-Dawn Blackwell, the University’s Associate Vice-President, Professional and Continuing Studies. “Professional development and networking are a core component of community and industry success for diversity and inclusion.”

N’ora Kalb, Director of Operations for Innovate Niagara, stressed the importance of attracting women to STEAM fields.

“We are all impacted when there is a lack of diversity in designing and developing new technology,” she said. “Without diversity in these fields, we may miss out on designing solutions that work for a diversity of people.”

As she prepares to participate in Thursday’s panel discussion, Dividino emphasized the importance of supporting up-and-coming women innovators.

“Although women continue to make big strides in STEAM, they remain hugely under-represented,” she said. “Brock is addressing this disparity through its new Integrated Engineering program, which promotes gender balance, equity, diversity and inclusion. I’ll be introducing the program during the event.”

Ombuki-Berman called the intersection of art and technology “extremely interesting and rich.”

“The advancement of technology has introduced new thought patterns, ideas and innovative ways of thinking,” she said. “As technology evolves, it changes the way art is created, consumed and shared.”

To learn more about the Women in Steam event or to purchase tickets, which are $20 each, visit the Eventbrite website.

Community members interested in exploring professional and continuing education opportunities at Brock can email Continuing Education at CE@brocku.ca

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