January: SketchUp

A monthly time for area women in tech to learn, share, and network. New members always welcome!

This month, Anamika Chandel of The Silk will demonstrate SketchUp. SketchUp is a 3D modeling computer program for applications such as architectural, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design.
It is a free software, easy to download and use. Bring a laptop if you would like to follow along.

Wednesday, January 14, 7 p.m.
Iowa City Public Library
Meeting Room D
123 S. Linn St.
Iowa City


December Meeting: Hands-on with Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi, Circuit Sewing

An evening of networking and sharing for women in tech. Bring in any maker kits you own such as Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino for an evening of hands-on making and learning. No kits of your own? Help Daria make a banana keyboard with her Makey Makey. There will also be some extra circuit sewing supplies.

Wednesday, December 10, 7 p.m.
University Capitol Center 2520B
Iowa City, IA

Girls Tech Career Day 2014 Recap

Writeup and photographs by Shuva Rahim, Accent Photographics. Originally posted on shuvarahim.com. Many thanks to Shuva for recording this special day!

IOWA CITY and CORALVILLE, Iowa – QR codes, chemistry experiments, computer software programs, design-builds and startup pitches were among the highlights of the 2nd Girls Tech Career Day put on by the Iowa Tech Chicks on Wednesday. I was among the group of volunteers who helped with this event, the aim of which is to educate and inspire local girls in grades 5 to 8 about science and technology through the eyes of area women who are experts in their fields. Similar to last year, we had a small group – 16 girls – who were part of this year’s tech career day. Roughly half this time were from Iowa City’s school district; half were from outlying schools, and all participants were interested in the sciences.

We started the day at Kirkwood Community College, where the girls were broken into groups to do a classroom scavenger hunt for QR codes. They had to scan the codes to unlock a piece of trivia about women in technology. It was a fun, breaking-the-ice exercise for the girls while allowing us to all learn about some amazing facts on women’s contributions to the sciences for more than a century.

Girl writing on whiteboard

QR code activity

We had a busy day planned for the girls, starting with some time in the chemistry lab at Kirkwood with instructor Lynne Zeman. She let the girls test various liquid and flame reactions with powder substances, such as sugar.

Lynne Zeman lighting bunsen burner

Testing powders


Kris Arens

Toward the end of their lab time Lynne had the girls gather around her as she turned pennies into a gold color. And it’s fair to say this first hour was among the favorite highlights of many of the girls.

Turning pennies into gold

After chemistry, the girls learned about finding a problem in their lives and coming up with a solution they could pitch to others. This segment was brilliantly led by Michal Eynon-Lynch, co-creator of an educational app called Pear Deck. It was like watching an intro class on how to do a startup pitch for great ideas. And the girls did come up with fantastic ideas, from magnetic hair accessories to prevent losing them to – my personal favorite – a built-in fan on a countertop so dishes could be done faster.

Michal Eynon-Lynch Pear Deck
Startup startegizing

Then it was to the computer lab where Anamika Chandel, founder of an Indian handmade clothing and accessory company called The Silk, introduced the girls to a design program called SketchUp. The 3D-design program allowed the girls to experiment with creating buildings of all kinds on their own. It’s also a free download if you want to try it for yourselves.
Anamika Chandel Sketchup
Designing roof with Sketchup

We then headed to the Coralville Colab, where the girls munched on lunch from Pancheros and got to hear about monkey research done by University of Iowa assistant psychology professor Julie Gros-Louis. She currently does research on infant communication, and talked about how her interest in that subject  stemmed from studying a primate species in Costa Rica.
Julie Gros-Louis Research
A short drive away was ConnectFive, a design-usability company which also was part of this event last year and since relocated its offices to a really great space in Coralville near the Oakdale campus. The firm’s mission for the girls – which they broke up into teams – was to create a prototype bag for a specific persona (in this case an individual on the ConnectFive staff) using materials provided. There was quite a bit of drawing out ideas, discussions and major paper construction during this project among the teams.

Design at Connect Five
Design project Connect Five
We returned to Kirkwood where the girls learned about Scratch, a programming-language software developed at MIT which they used to create a computer game as guided by University of Iowa software developer Tricia Ball.

Scratch with Trish Ball

Finally, the last part of the day – and one of the most exciting parts – was the experience the girls shared in taking apart computers. This segment was taught by Kris Arens of SiloTree Coaching and Consulting, who compared the different computer parts to the human body to make this session more relatable. The girls had a blast pulling parts out and looking at them with great curiosity.
Kris Arens Computer Teardown
Computer teardown
Digging into the computer

Overall, it was a fun-filled educational event for the girls, as well as the volunteer team. Even though this was our second go-around, we learned a lot from each other’s presentations and are excited to how the girls will use what they’ve learned to impact their lives.
Group photo GTCD

At the end of the day we had the girls fill out surveys. And we couldn’t resist sharing this reaction on the Iowa Tech Chicks Twitter feed immediately when we saw it:

Amazing Things

Thanks to the presenters, our sponsors and more importantly the girls’ parents as well as their teachers for supporting them in this endeavor!

As ever,

Shuva Rahim

Sit with Me Awareness Campaign

From October 15-24, the Sit with Me red chair is appearing at a variety of businesses and organizations in the Creative Corridor. Sitting in the red chair symbolizes taking a stand to support women in technology. The Red Chair is part a nationwide campaign to increase gender diversity in computing and IT led by NCWIT. You are invited to “take a stand” by sitting in the Red Chair

Many thanks to University of Iowa Women in Informatics and Computer Science, Innovation Expo, Iowa City CoLab, University of Iowa Research Park, Vault, Iowa Startup Accelerator and 1 Milliion Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids for providing venues for the chair!


Full gallery of photos (additions daily through October 24).


Girls Tech Career Day Speakers 2014

Many thanks to the wonderful local women who will be sharing their path to careers in technology with the girls on Girls Tech Career Day November 12, 2014. Fun to see both some familiar faces from last year’s program and a few new ones!

Kristine Arens

Kris_Arens-headshotKristine Arens is the President and owner of SiloTree Coaching and Consulting. As a professional coach and business consultant, Kristine works with companies to build cohesive teams. She also acts as a big idea architect, where she helps companies convert big ideas into actionable tasks and processes.

She has 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field and was a key player overseeing the implementation of high-profile, large-scale software solutions. She used success driven strategies, leadership skills, and team collaboration to become a leader in her organization. In 2011 she created her own coaching and consulting business. Today, Kristine is a trusted coach, speaker and business consultant who uses her “been-there-done-that” experience to connect to her clients.

Kristine grew up in rural Wisconsin, but has called Iowa home for 20 years. She is a LEGO League Coach and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children.

Tricia Ball

Tricia_Ball-headshotTricia Ball originally started with a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Iowa, but then returned to receive her B.S. in Computer Science. She has now been working in technology for over 11 years. She started her career in user technical support at Pearson, and continued there as a software developer starting with Java, and then onto a Ruby on Rails team. She is now at the University of Iowa where she is a team lead, and also develops in PHP, Ruby on Rails, as well as JavaScript.

Leah Becker

Leah BeckerLeah is a UI Designer/Production Specialist at ConnectFive. She is experienced in designing print and web-based materials. Leah graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Art Studio – emphasis in Graphic Design and minors in Art History and Marketing. Before becoming part of the ConnectFive team, Leah worked as a freelance designer. Aside from her work, Leah enjoys painting, traveling, and spending time with family.

Anamika Chandel

anamikaAnamika Chandel came to Iowa after receiving a Bachelor of Interior Design from India and Masters in Design from Italy. Her motto is to never stop learning. She likes to read and teach her son about everything and is always working on the best ways to teach him.

Anamika wants to teach people who can’t afford to go to school. Her aim is to help people build computer skills so that they can apply for better jobs. She is also working on enhancing her own computer skills, learning to code and build websites.

Dawn Ealy

Dawn EalyDawn wears many hats for ConnectFive, including UX Documentation Lead, Project Manager and HR Liaison. She graduated from Central College with a BA in Computer Science and a minor in Business Management. Prior to joining ConnectFive, Dawn worked in systems analysis, project management and technical writing roles for companies in the pharmaceutical and educational assessment industries. In addition to her technical side, Dawn has also managed hospital volunteers, sold real estate and volunteered for many school, church and sports activities within the community.

Michal Eynon-Lynch

Michal-headshotMichal Eynon-Lynch is a former high school teacher turned EdTech Entrepreneur.  She co-founded ActiveGrade, a gradebook to provide more timely and specific feedback to students, in 2010 and sold it in 2013.  In 2014 the team rejoined to build Pear Deck, an interactive presentation and formative assessment tool that allows every student to participate right from their own computers or phones.  Michal is the COO and Chief Educator at Pear Deck focusing on everything from customer relationships, product design, and help documentation to hiring, pitching to investors, and sales.

Julie Gros-Louis

Julie Gros-LouisJulie completed her B. S. at the University of Michigan in Biological Anthropology-zoology. During her years as an undergraduate, she gained field experience as a research assistant studying dolphins in Australia, rhesus macaques in Puerto Rico, and capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. After graduating, she worked as a full time research assistant for 3 years (in Costa Rica and Ann Arbor) before going on to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her Ph.D. in Psychology. Her Ph.D. research focused on vocal communication in white-faced capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Julie went on to Indiana University for a post-doc in developmental psychology studying social mechanisms of communicative development in songbirds and human infants. Currently, Julie is an assistant professor of Psychology and member of The Delta Center at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on social influences on communicative development in prelinguistic infants.

Katelyn Lensch

Katelyn Lensch Katelyn Lensch is a UI designer and developer for ConnectFive. She discovered her love of technology and graphic design in High School while building websites for local companies and as a member of the Iowa State 4H Technology Team. She went to the University of Northern Iowa and graduated with B.A.’s in Graphic Design and Computer Science. She has worked as an interface designer and developer for several Iowa companies helping to create websites, mobile apps and software on touch screen devices.

Lynne Zeman

Lynne Zeman teaches chemistry and nutrition at Kirkwood Community College, and in the past has taught biology, beginning physics and math classes at both the community college and high school levels as well.   She has coached a few First LEGO League teams and put on a Family Science Night (hoping to do more of those this year)    She has masters degrees in biology and chemistry from University of Iowa.  She loves to read.

Organizing Committee

In addition to the presenters, the day would not be possible without our organizing committee. Many thanks to Kris Arens, Tricia Ball, Laura Christenson, Andrea Flemming, Jen Graham, Jennifer Kyle, Karen Michaeli, Rebecca Michaeli, Shuva Rahim, Liza Sarsfield, Daria Tan, Deb Walton and Juliet Wehr.