ITHACA, N.Y. — Miss New York tagged along with about 30 teens who showed up at the Ithaca Commons Wednesday afternoon to learn how to build computers from scratch.
The event, meant to highlight STEM learning, was a collaborative effort between the Southside Community Center and Cornell University to host a hands on event in honor of National Week of Making, from June 17 to June 23.
“I want to help promote teens getting into technology,” said Edward Moran, head of information technology at the center.
He said it’s important for young people to know that factors such as one’s gender, race and financial disposition don’t have to be insurmountable barriers to learning – that technology equity is possible.
Moran, a Cornell Civics Leader Fellow, said he worked with the university to pull together most of the equipment used during the event. For instance, about 90 percent of the equipment used is courtesy of the Cornell Computer Reuse Association. Other equipment was provided by sponsors, such as Tompkins Trust Company.
About 30 people from 13 to 19 years old signed up to work on the project and they’ll get to keep the computer, a keyboard, a computer mouse and monitor when they are done.
Cornell graduate Camille Sims, who was crowned Miss New York 2016 earlier this year, was also at the making project, putting together a computer for donation. Sims used to work at the Southside Community Center and was contacted by Moran about two weeks ago about coming to the event.
The Ithaca resident, who now works at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, said she was happy to help raise awareness of the project.
“I thought this would be great to – especially (for) young women of color – really to know that this isn’t a man’s job,” she said, while perfectly manicured hands handled wires inside a hard drive.
She has always been interested in technology and supports the message to teach teens the importance of learning science and technology related skills.
Sims also wants to bust the stereotype – for herself and for other young women in the community – that beauty queens just do makeup and shuttle from one event to the next photo opportunity.
“We’re actually builders and creators and workers and are involved in the community,” she said.