Alumni Spotlight – Georgia Donaldson

Alumni Spotlight is where you get to meet our wonderful Astra S.T.E.A.M. Alumni. In the past three years, we were lucky to have influenced over 60 young girls who are aspired to become young entrepreneurs in the STEAM fields. Each year, these young girls would work in teams to come up with New Venture App ideas during a two-day Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit. At the end of the Summit, they would pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges.

Through this experience, we want to encourage young girls to develop their interests in STEAM subjects as well as entrepreneurship, and to empower them to become the next generation of female scientists and women entrepreneurs.

In today’s Alumni Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to our 2014 STEAMer – Georgia Donaldson.

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Tell us a little more about yourself!

I was born in Vancouver BC, but my home is the ski resort town of Whitefish Montana. I am currently a sophomore majoring in Manufacturing Engineering at Western Washington University.

I attended Whitefish High school and participated in golf, and was a captain for my hockey and softball teams. I loved the leadership and team aspect of these sports, but my favorite extra curricular club was DECA because of the problem solving, creativity, and social opportunities. My involvement in DECA lead me to believe that my career path was business, so when my sophomore math teacher nominated me to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (NYLF STEM), I initially ignored the recommendation. But after a year of being a math tutor for my peers and younger students, I became more aware of my aptitude for mathematics, and I decided to attend the NYLF STEM summit at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, I worked on engineering project designs in a group of twenty students. I really enjoyed working in our group and was surprised to find that I could play a key role in the marketing and management of the team rather than the mechanics of the device.

While attending Western Washington University this year I plan on joining the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) so that I can continue to learn more about careers and opportunities in the STEM field.

What was your first impression when you heard about the Astra STEAM Program?

After the NYLF STEM Summit my hockey coach recommended the Astra STEAM Summit. I love how Astra is focused on women in STEAM fields and recognizes the important relationship between art, science, and entrepreneurship. When I found out I was chosen to attend, I also heard that I was the only participant who was not from the west coast. This made me nervous because I knew my background would be different coming from a small town in a remote state, but after meeting my team and attending the conference I realized that we all had very different attributes, but all got along well due to a passion for the STEAM field and being teenage girls.

What was your experience like as a STEAMer?

I attending the first Astra Summit in 2014 on the Microsoft Campus in San Jose, and it was more than I could have ever imagined. The mentors and speakers were all extremely successful, passionate women. From a cartographer that worked on the maps for Halo, to software developers and engineers working with Google, NASA, and Microsoft, each woman was someone to look up to and an inspiration in their field.

Can you tell us about your team’s business and App idea?

My team invented an app called Zip. Zip was designed for young adults as a social media app encouraging them to socialize actively together. Individuals could post upcoming community events and other teens could like events and share if they were attending or not. This app promoted safe activities and allowed teens to meet new friends while hanging out with old ones. The app could also be used for study groups, clubs, or community service opportunities.

For the pitch our team focused on marketing and the interface of the app. We created slides illustrating app layout and had multiple examples of video and pictorial advertisements. Our team won first place in the competition for Zip and it was a shock to us all because each team’s project was very unique and different. Each member of our team had a strong suit in completely different areas which we tried to showcase equally throughout the app.

What was your best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit?

My best memory was when we all did the presentations. Every girl there was extremely driven and bright, so when the pitches were given you could tell that each team had put about one-month worth of work into just forty eight hours. None of us slept and were on the phone constantly with our team trying to iron out every detail before the final presentation. In those two days our team became very close, which was evident when we sat at our tables and talked as if we had been friends for years. It did not matter what school we came from, or what our backgrounds were, we all believed in our projects and teams equally by pitch time on the last day.

What was your biggest takeaway from the Astra STEAM Summit?

At the time I was debating on majoring in Polymer Engineering or Manufacturing Engineering, and being able to sit down and talk with successful women engineers, particularly Pamela Kan from Bishop-Wisecarver, was the best thing I could have ever asked for in my senior year of high school. These women showed me that everything is manufactured, and that manufacturing in combination with business makes career possibilities endless.

What is your dream career?

I would love to work for a company like Nike or Patagonia. Even though I am in Manufacturing Engineering, the growing field of polymers and 3D printing interests me. I love chemistry and think it would be amazing to work with a company to help create high quality fashion at a low cost so that more people can continue doing activities they love such as skiing or hiking.

Please give one advice to the new STEAMers.

Take full advantage of all the opportunities available to you at the Summit. You have forty eight hours to make some of the best connections of your life. In the mornings and at lunch introduce yourself to the other STEAMers. Astra invites incredibly successful mentors and accepts applicants that they believe will have success in the STEAM field so use all the resources of the women around you.

As soon as you are accepted to the summit, you are accepted into the Astra family. This family is always available as a resource to you, no matter how distant you may feel from the original summit, or how long you wait before re-connecting with Astra mentors. Following the summit I took the mentor’s advice and applied it to my future career goals, but I wish I would have continued to contact the mentors more directly. In the future I plan to strengthen my bond with Astra, and attend another summit as a mentor. But for now, I hope the STEAMers know to have confidence, believe in yourself, and I guarantee you will have something in common with each girl and mentor at the Summit.


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