On December 14, 2017, the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) convened a meeting with representatives from the Center for the Advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CASTEM) at WV State University, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, WVU Extension Service 4-H Program, National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University, West Virginia University, WVU Institute of Technology, WV State University, and other volunteers, to discuss potential collaboration between these organizations and to establish an affiliation with the NCWIT. The group met at the Aerospace Engineering Lab on the campus of West Virginia State University in Institute, WV.
At the end of the first meeting, the EMPOWERS (Establishing Mentoring Pipeline of Women through Education and Research in STEM) organization was formed to engage in and to create programs in education, research, and community activities to support and enrich student participation in STEM disciplines in the state of West Virginia, with a primary focus on K-16 female students. Its main goal is to impact girls at every point along the STEM pathway, from K-16 well into their careers.
This diverse group of leaders and volunteers soon realized that, together, they could provide a fresh perspective in advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in West Virginia and, in particular, help prepare young female students to face the challenges associated with being successful in STEM careers. The founding members of EMPOWERS realized the urgent need to devise and offer STEM opportunities that would intervene with WV female students at a young age to encourage them and support them in a STEM discipline and building their interest early on so they would consider STEM as a career.