International STEAM delegates to visit UA Little Rock

An international delegation of eight women — all successful in their respective STEAM fields — will visit the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Monday, Nov. 5, as part of a “Hidden No More: Advancing Women in STEAM Fields” program.

A community forum and reception talk will take place from 5-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in the Windgate Center for Art + Design and is free and open to the public. The women will participate in a panel discussion beginning at 5 p.m., followed by networking with international and local leaders at 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

The woman are part of a program inspired by the movie “Hidden Figures,” about black female mathematicians who played a vital role in NASA’s mission to the moon. The movie led the U.S. Department of State to create the International Visitor Leadership Program last year brings women leaders who represent “hidden talent” in their home countries to the United States to explore U.S. efforts to prepare women and girls for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Hidden No More program, now in its second year, includes professionals in the arts as well.

This year 48 female leaders from 48 different countries — all of whom work in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math — were invited to the United States to network and explore policies promoting the interests of women in STEAM. The women first convened in Washington, D.C. and then split into smaller groups to visit six smaller cities, including Little Rock. The theme for their time here in Little Rock is “STEAM Education and Youth Engagement.”

The visitors included the following:

  • Austria – Dr. Miriam Unterlass, group leader and lecturer, Institute Of Materials Chemistry, Technical University Vienna
  • Chile – Carolina Andrea Fuentes Pezoa, team lead, Big Data And Analytics, Equifax Inc.
  • Croatia – Maja Macinko Kovac, teacher, Eugen Kvaternik Elementary School
  • Honduras – Michelle Fontecha Sandoval, executive director, Honduras Stem Foundation
  • Kyrgyz Republic – Shirin Mukanbetova, executive director, Kyrgyz Software and Services Developers Association
  • Netherlands – Tamar Gans, founder And CEO, Robotwise
  • Portugal – Maria Lopes Goncalves De Brito Amorim, principal investigator, Cell Biology and Viral Infection Group, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia
  • Sri Lanka – Amali Manori Ranasinghe, project scientist, coordinating secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry of Science, Technology and Research

Three of the women will participate in a panel discussion on Monday, along with Dr. Mary Good, founding dean of the George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology; Dr. Mariya Khodakovskya, interim associate dean for research and graduate studies in University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s College of Arts, Letters and Sciences; and Dr. Yang Luo-Branch, digital marketing and GIS manager at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

The event is hosted by Global Ties Arkansas, a nonprofit which contracts with the federal government to bring international delegates to Little Rock for professional training.

The group will return to campus on Tuesday, Nov. 6, to meet with Vernard Henley, assistant dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology, and Thomas Wallace, senior instructor of information science and web design, who teaches the Girls Coding Camp at UA Little Rock each summer.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, they will tour the George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center where faculty and students perform innovative research in technology, infrastructure and applications for virtual reality, visualization, and interactive technologies. Thomas Coffin, senior operating manager, will provide the tour of the virtual reality cave invented by Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira, who was recently elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Anyone interested in attending the community forum is asked to RSVP to Heidi Whitman,

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