School of Engineering's STEPS Camp Lands Prestigious Tekne Award

This year St. Thomas' School of Engineering's STEPS camp celebrated the enrollment of its 3,000 camper since it first hosted the free science and engineering camp for girls 14 years ago. It also celebrated another milestone: its first Tekne Award.

Tekne Awards are given annually by the Minnesota High Tech Association in honor of companies, innovations and people for technological breakthroughs that improve the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and around the world. STEPS, which is short for Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer Camp for Girls, won in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education division.

STEPS program director Kelly McLaughlin Brown remarked on the recognition: "The STEPS team was so honored to receive this year's Tekne award. It was our first time winning and is a huge accomplishment for our program and also a great recognition of all the hard work that has gone into this program for the last 14 years. STEPS is an amazing program that helps so many young women realize how empowered they can feel in science, math and engineering. We are looking forward to another great year and a huge milestone of it being our 15th year. Winning the TEKNE was a great way to kick it off."

The goal of the camp is to foster girls' interest in science and engineering, and to build their confidence in pursuing further education and a career in the STEM field.

Every summer for the past 14 years, STEPS at St. Thomas has sponsored the no-cost camps, which include room, board and hands-on instruction by top-notch professionals in the STEM field. During six weeklong sessions, campers live in campus dorms, take workshops on computer programming and blogging, electronics, physics, renewable energy, machining and manufacturing processes. Working in the School of Engineering’s labs, they create airplanes or rockets, depending on their ages, from start to finish and test them outdoors on "fly nights."

Fifteen Minnesota businesses and organizations, including EcoLab, 3M and Boston Scientific, were presented with awards earlier this month at a ceremony hosted by meteorologist and author Paul Douglas.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president of MHTA, remarked, "As we continue to advocate for those things that will help spur technology growth in our state, including stronger STEM education and better business incentives, these recipients are a proud reminder of the amazing things happening here."