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Girls Have Fun With Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Technology

A recent summer camp at Pennsylvania College of Technology saw high school girls dreaming up their own businesses while learning the science behind digital fabrication.

Thirty-five teens recently attended SMART Girls at Penn College. The camp – which stands for Science and Math in Real-world Technologies – was supported in part by a $12,650 grant from the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp.

During the five-day camp, the girls formed 10 teams, each of which was assigned a type of business to fulfill the needs of “Dreamville, USA,” residents. Businesses ranged from tech companies to a health care provider, and from an arts boutique to television and radio stations.

A participant in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s SMART Girls summer camp paints the building that will house her team’s “She Rocks: From Print to Air,” one of 10 new businesses established for the town of “Dreamville.” The three-girl team developed a business plan for the town’s media center (including radio and television stations and a recording studio), designed and printed a building, and produced 3-D printed headphones.
A participant in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s SMART Girls summer camp paints the building that will house her team’s “She Rocks: From Print to Air,” one of 10 new businesses established for the town of “Dreamville.” The three-girl team developed a business plan for the town’s media center (including radio and television stations and a recording studio), designed and printed a building, and produced 3-D printed headphones.

They learned the basic steps of business planning, researching their competition and determining what products and services would differentiate their companies and fulfill the needs of Dreamville citizens. With assistance from the Carnegie Science Center Mobile Fab Lab, they used laptop computers, 3-D printers and other equipment to design and produce the buildings that would house their businesses and the products that would line their shelves. On the camp’s final day, they presented their businesses at a showcase for their families and the college community, who voted for their favorites.

As they discussed their business ventures, the girls reported with excitement the lessons they learned. “Not every design will work,” said one of the girls behind the town’s hardware and gardening center.

For some girls, the experience bolstered their love for math, while others strengthened penchants for technology or art. Some discovered new passions for business management, while others found invigorating outlets for their creativity as they innovated new products and services, solved design and production problems, and designed marketing materials.

Many learned how valuable it is to have reliable teammates with diverse skills. “I learned how, working together, you can get things done,” a SMART Girl said.

The Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp. grant to the program is part of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Business-Education Partnerships program. The partnerships connect schools, employers and students to provide career-related experiences, with the goal of engaging more students in the need for technical skills required by employers.

Additional funding for SMART Girls came from donations by several area businesses to the college through the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.

Brodart Co., First National Bank, Jersey Shore State Bank, PPL Electric Utilities, UGI Utilities Inc. and Waste Management Inc. each made gifts to the college through EITC. Those donations support SMART Girls and the college’s dual-enrollment program for high school students, known as Penn College NOW. In addition to its EITC contribution, PPL Corp. made a separate gift directly to support SMART Girls.

Penn College developed SMART Girls in 2001 to help young females experience math and science as a foundation for careers in technology.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.