Illustration by Insiya Motiwala

weSTEM’s 6th annual High School Conference

weSTEM recently held one of its hallmark events, the annual High School Conference, featuring interactive and engaging workshops as well as speeches from professors well-established in the field of STEM.

Apr 11, 2022

weSTEM’s 6th annual High School Conference took place on March 31 and April 1. It welcomed 28 female-identifying high school students from 8 schools from around the United Arab Emirates.
The weSTEM High School Conference is a collaborative, interdisciplinary and locally engaged initiative designed to promote diversity and female presence in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in and beyond the UAE. “One of our primary objectives is to stimulate interest and facilitate high school girls' preparation into successful STEM college studies and careers,” said Aayusha Shreshta, Class of 2022 and co-chair of the conference for the past two academic years.
For the first time since its inception, the conference welcomed the Student Affairs Leadership Team and weSTEM associated NYU Abu Dhabi staff to its opening and keynote. The keynote speech was delivered on the first day of the conference by Dr. Azza Abouzeid, Associate Professor of Computer Science at New York University Abu Dhabi and Global Network Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Abouzeid made powerful remarks about the positionality of future leaders in STEM and the responsibilities that will fall upon their shoulders to make positive change in the world. She also emphasized the importance of finding a healthy balance in life, checking in with oneself and redefining success beyond academic validation and career milestones.
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session with female leaders across diverse STEM and STEM-adjacent disciplines from engineering and biology to interactive media and design. The participants engaged in meaningful discussions with NYUAD alumni Thinh Tran and Aleksandra Medina, NYUAD alumna and current NYUAD Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering, Dr. Farah Shamout and NYUAD Lecturer of Engineering Design, Khulod Alawadi. The panelists tackled topics of interest within their respective fields, answered questions and offered a plethora of advice about undergraduate and graduate schools, STEM career trajectories and overcoming obstacles as women in STEM.
The second day of the conference was reserved for more hands-on learning and networking. Participants engaged in one of three workshops offered: Python programming, remote sensing or synthetic biology. These workshops were designed and delivered by passionate NYUAD students and included both lecture-based and interactive components. In the remote sensing workshop, participants learned how to use simple scripts in the Google Earth Engine to retrieve information about geographical temperature, population, etc., and then visualize it on digital maps. The programming workshop was hosted in collaboration with imagiLabs and provided the participants with the foundation to learn Python, one of the most popular coding languages, in a fun and interactive manner using the imagiLabs App. Last but not least, the synthetic biology workshop delivered by the NYUAD iGEM team introduced the participants to the world of possibilities and innovation that befalls biotechnology and genetic engineering. The high school students also had the opportunity to engage in casual conversation with members of the weSTEM conference E-board in between the workshop sessions. The conference came to a close with a session conducted by the Admissions Department under NYUAD’s Hanan Abed.
The weSTEM High School Conference organizing team shared that the participants reported that they felt more comfortable, supported, motivated and much more ready for the future by the end of the conference. “At the end of the conference, we asked the participants to share one word to describe the conference on a word cloud,” said Aayusha. “The most entered words were ‘inspirational’ and ‘informative’.”
Tatiana Houhou is a contributing writer. Email them at
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