UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – The Women of Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (WAIAM) is hoping to get more females in the field by introducing STEM and aerospace careers to them at a young age.

WAIAM is hosting a virtual, statewide competition called “Michigan Girls Future Flight Challenge.” This challenge is for girls in grades 4th through 8th. The four-week-long project invites girls to create a team of 2 – 5 students. That team will then design a sustainable and unique way of flight to solve a problem.

“We left it very open-ended so the girls can be very creative in their approach that they take,” Stacy Paul, CEO, Array of Engineers said. “During this competition, there’s a time where they’ll be able to contact professional women who work in the aerospace industry. They’ll be able to contact them and start the seed of mentorship and it’s going to be all of the different ways that we support the aerospace industry whether it’s marketing or sales, business development, and engineering.”

Dr. Meredith LaBeau, the CTO of Calumet Electronics is one of those mentors.

“Opportunities from when I was growing up were not the same in understanding how to participate,” Dr. Meredith LaBeau, CTO of Calumet Electronics said. “So we had to break some of our own doors open and it’s really important as women who are thriving in the industry that we give back to these young ladies so that they understand that they have the opportunity. There is no reason they wouldn’t have the opportunity. There are no real doors to break down even and there are mentors and people out there to support them to find this career. There is something interesting out there about aerospace which is, that it’s just really neat and the problems that you solve in the aerospace industry. You can be on the marketing side, you can be on the business side, you can be on the engineering side, you can be on the safety side and that’s what all being wrapped up into this project with mentors from all different angles to provide them with resources to really solve a problem, not just specifically engineering.”

The virtual kick-off for the event will happen on Saturday, April 23, and final project presentations will take place on May 21. Prizes will be awarded to the top teams and every participant will receive a free t-shirt.

To register a team, click here.