Despite the initiatives in place to facilitate the educational growth of people during all walks of life, some fields of study are still lacking diversity. This rings especially true for still-developing pillars of academia, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). However, a professor from a distinguished New Jersey college has created a smartphone app to help anyone looking to further their knowledge in these fields.

On this episode of Life & Living with Joanna Gagis, Michael J. Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Informatics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), sat down with show host Joanna Gagis. They specifically discussed the ways in which he is engaging young women and minorities in STEM programs with his innovative app.

STEM is an academic discipline encompassing four technical studies. College students in these fields could major in an array of subjects, including life sciences, accounting, psychology or civil and electrical engineering. All of these can lead to desirable, high-paying professions.

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Lee explained that in these fields, women and minorities are underrepresented. But his new app, Gidget, helps to level the playing field for all who are interested in STEM-related careers.

“Gidget is designed to engage learners of all ages and to teach them computer science concepts,” said Lee. “So basically what you’re doing in Gidget is solving puzzles but debugging and learning how to code, and we try to really make it accessible to everybody of all ages.”

Gidget doesn’t cater to a specific demographic, which has allowed thousands of users to join in on the fun so far; in fact, nearly half of the user base is female.

“We thought about making it been very gender inclusive,” Lee stated. “So we really wanted to make sure it wasn’t designed for girls [and] it wasn’t designed for boys, but that it was designed so that it be engaging for everybody.”

To learn more about how Gidget helps teach others about STEM and how you can participate, check out this segment of Life & Living with Joanna Gagis.

For more stories that impact New Jersey residents, click over to our Hot Topics in NJ series.


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