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Celebrating Women in STEM: Marian Hosts OBGYN, Engineering Leaders

Marian hosted two dynamic STEM events this week, highlighting the school's dedication to fostering student engagement and female empowerment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Organized by the Marian Medical Club (MMC) and the Marian-Rice Mech Warriors robotics team in collaboration with the Aptiv Technical Women's Network, these events offered students invaluable insights and hands-on experiences in STEM fields. 

The STEM celebration began with a Marian Medical Club meeting featuring guest speakers Dr. Paula Quaine and Dr. Alison Thomas '12. Dr. Quaine and Dr. Thomas shared their inspiring journeys in the field of medicine, providing students with valuable perspectives on different career paths within the healthcare industry. 

Dr. Thomas, a first-generation Chaldean American, discussed her current journey in obstetrics and gynecology residency at Beaumont. Reflecting on her time at Marian, Dr. Thomas expressed her gratitude for the impactful high school experiences that shaped her academic and career pursuits. She highlighted her involvement in extracurricular activities such as the French club and her academic interests in AP biology, anatomy, and physiology, which solidified her passion for science and the human body. Dr. Thomas continued her pre-med track at Wayne State University on a full scholarship, majoring in nutrition and food science. 

Both Dr. Thomas and Dr. Quaine delved into the path to becoming a doctor, covering pre-requisites in undergrad to fellowship and board exams. They provided insights into the field of obstetrics and gynecology, including advancements in surgery, and shared examples of their day-to-day work within OBGYN. 

Following the MMC club meeting, Marian continued its STEM celebration with the Festival of Hearts (in honor of Valentine’s Day). Co-hosted by the Marian-Rice Mech Warriors robotics team and the Aptiv Technical Women's Network, the festival aimed to celebrate women in engineering while providing students with hands-on experience in robotics. The event featured speakers Diana Torres and Lisa Perez Savage '05, both leaders in the automotive industry and active in FIRST Robotics. Torres and Savage shared insights into their roles, the automotive field, and its relevance to robotics. Students had the opportunity to learn about various career paths in engineering and gain practical experience in building and coding a small robot under the guidance of these industry professionals. 

Torres, a Software Engineer and Platform Owner/Scrum Coordinator at Aptiv, shared her expertise with the students. Leading the Global Product Camera Platform team, Torres leverages her experience in software development for automotive and embedded control systems. Her extensive background includes proficiency in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and various software development methodologies, such as Agile, Scrum, Iterative, and Waterfall. Torres's expertise in communication protocols, including CAN/CAN FD, SPI, and Ethernet, provided students with valuable insights into the automotive industry's technological landscape. 

Savage, a Safety Technical Lead at Aptiv, also shared her expertise with students. Savage's role encompasses AI/ML and SOTIF (Safety of the Intended Functionality), highlighting her dedication to ensuring safety in automotive technologies. Additionally, Savage serves as the lead mentor of the Marian Rice Robotics team, demonstrating her commitment to nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders. Her involvement in steering committees for organizations like FIRST in Michigan and the Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association underscores her passion for promoting STEM education and robotics competitions among students. 

During the workshop, students had the opportunity to build, wire, and code a small robot called a ROMI, powered by a Raspberry Pi controller and enabled by color reflectance sensors. The goal of the session was to have the ROMI run autonomously and stop once it saw a dark line (analogous to some of the work that Torres and Savage do working on advanced driver assistance functions, and also to some of the challenges that the robotics team has to complete when they compete). Students learned how to use tools, troubleshoot when things did not work right away, test, and make adjustments. 

These STEM initiatives, featuring esteemed industry professionals, exemplify Marian's commitment to providing students with immersive STEM experiences. Marian High School continues to inspire and empower students to explore their interests, pursue their passions, and make meaningful contributions in STEM fields. 

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