Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah tech camps: Where the girls aren’t
Technology » As women lag in tech fields, educators hope girls learn programming skills for future careers.

< Previous Page

‘A drastic change’ » At Geek Squad Academy, Arissa and her team quickly reprogrammed their robot with LEGO Mindstorms software and corrected its route.

She likes working in a group, she said, because "we get to share each other’s ideas and new ideas can come from those. We have a better chance of figuring it out."

At a glance


It’s not too late

The Graphics and Robotic Exploration with Amazing Technology (GREAT) camps at the University of Utah have a few classes left in beginning and advanced Scratch, a computer programming language. The classes start Monday. There’s also a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) course the same week, teaching students about the techniques of robotics to prepare them for the annual FLL competition.

More information is available from Dave Johnson at 801-585-1726.

The University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering department has one game design class beginning Aug. 4 with slots still open. Students ages 14 to 16 spend a week learning to program video games. The program is designed so that each student walks away with his or her own game.

Youth Education at the U. also offers tech camps in August; learn more at https://continue.utah.edu/youth.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

She was one of 49 girls and almost 100 boys at the academy, sponsored by the nonprofit Junior Achievement of Utah at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. Because the program is trying to spark girls’ interest in technology, all the girls on the wait list were admitted, said Becky Harding, of Junior Achievement.

Students ages 9 to 14 learned about robotics, 3-D imaging and printing, digital music and film and digital responsibility. Arissa, of South Jordan, said she enjoyed learning about 3-D imaging and robots. "It’s so cool to learn you can program robots to do what you want."

Becky Ruff, a parent volunteer at the academy, said she encourages her daughters, ages 11, 10 and 8, and other girls to study technology, make mistakes and show off their smarts.

"As these girls mature, they feel like their role has to change," the Lehi mother of three said. "They have to be the cute, silly girl versus the smart, awesome girl."

To help fight peer pressure, the academy separated the campers into two groups of girls and three groups of boys, Ruff said. "It takes a lot to change social pressure," she said. "There are these social norms that girls aren’t programmers."

Ruff said all three of her daughters will attend Geek Academy next summer, in part because at $55 per child, it’s one of the least expensive camps around.

The Entertainment Arts and Engineering course is one of the more expensive — $374. Most GREAT camp classes at the University of Utah range from $135 for elementary-age children to $220 for middle school and high school students.

National Geek Squad Academy agent Brittani Uribe cites herself as a success story for the program, which she first attended when she was 17. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in communications and has been a Geek Squad agent with Best Buy for three years.

story continues below
story continues below

"You can see a drastic change" in girls who attend, she said while working at the Salt Lake City academy. "When they come in, the girls seem disinterested, and at the end, little girls come to me and say, ‘I want to be a Geek Squad agent.’ "

She added, "My message to these girls is that you can do whatever you want.


Twitter: @daniellekmanley

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.