TechGirlz Volunteer Featured on WVLT Local 8 News

Brittany Tarwarter, Emmy and Associated Press award winning Multimedia Journalist and Anchor for Local 8 News, wrote a feature on Dr. Thomas Proffen, ORNL scientist, ORCSG founder and TechGirlz volunteer. She talks about the fact that STEM careers are a man’s world because women only make up less than a quarter of jobs in those areas and how the scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been working to change that! Thomas uses TechGirlz curriculum to bring tech to middle school girls. The full article was originally published May 07, 2018 on under the local section.

A group of girls come to class after school to learn a new language: They’re learning how to code.

“I’ve learned about the different type of things you can code and different ways you can code,” said Anne Fuller, a fifth grade student at Jefferson Middle School.

Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls is a non-profit that started in January 2017, partnering with Girls Inc. of the Tennessee Valley. So far, they’ve taught more than 500 young girls how to write code for computer programs.

“At first they were kind of nervous about trying new things and didn’t really understand it, but at the end of the course they’ve been able to code entire programs,” said Alanna Hunsaker, program director for Girls Inc. of the Tennessee Valley.

Dr. Thomas Proffen, a computer scientist at ORNL, noticed his daughter was missing opportunities to learn code compared to some boys, so he started a program just for girls.

“It always amazes me what they can do if they don’t hold themselves back. If you just encourage them. When you’re putting together a class and you think, ‘Is this too complicated or not?’ most of the time it amazes me what they can do. And then the sense of accomplishment,” said Proffen.

“At first, I thought it was going to be really hard, but as he brought his machine and showed us how to use it it became easier,” said Aaliyah Satchel, an eighth grade student at Jefferson Middle School.

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