Girls have the power to change the world, and these young high school students are already doing it. This all-girl engineering team invented a solar-powered tent for the homeless to give them a warm place to sleep at night.
All-Girl Engineer Team Invents Solar-Powered Tents for the Homeless
Homelessness is on the rise as the world’s cities become increasingly expensive to live in. In 2017, a group of female high school students decided they wanted to do something to help. Unfortunately, many of them felt powerless because they didn’t have much to offer. (1) “Because we come from low-income families ourselves, we can’t give them money,” explained high school senior Daniela Orozco. (1)
No Money? No Problem!
The girls refused to let their financial limitations to stop them. Where they couldn’t provide income, perhaps they could provide these members of their community with one of the basic necessities of life: A warm shelter to sleep in at night. (1)
The team of 12 San Fernando High School students partnered with DIY Girls. DIY Girls is an organization that supports girls in science, technology, engineering, math, and STEM. They spent a full year developing their solar-powered tent. (2)
For The People
The girls set several requirements for their tent. These included being portable and lightweight, LED and UVC lights that disinfect the tent, having the tent patented, and ensuring it gets into the hands of the people who need it most. The girls want their tent to help as many people as possible, including the homeless living in San Fernando and refugees displaced from their homes. (2)
DIY Girls Empowers Girls to Do More
Former executive and program director and current DIY Girls board member Evelyn Gomez couldn’t wait to help when she heard about the girls’ project. A San Fernando graduate herself, she went on to study engineering at MIT and UCLA. Gomez understands first-hand how important it is to support girls and Hispanic students in this field. (2) “I know in my own education, through undergraduate and graduate school, I was often the only Hispanic person in the room,” Gomez explains. “I think it really places a big burden on your shoulders: I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my people, I’m representing my community, and if I say something that maybe … doesn’t make sense, then that’s going to reflect poorly on them. That’s the beauty of having an all-girl team and having the beauty of working within our own community: We have no one else to turn to for answers. We need to come up with the answers ourselves. It’s very empowering.” (2)
Life Long Friends
At the start of the project, the girls hardly knew each other. Today, they are all great friends who will continue to support each other in their post-secondary endeavors. (2) They relied largely on Gomez in the beginning, however, they very quickly gained the confidence and independence to do things on their own. If they didn’t know something, they used Google and YouTube to figure it out. (1)
A Massive Commitment
The girls worked six days a week on the project, even during the winter and spring breaks. They put their tent through rigorous stress and quality control tests to ensure the tent’s integrity. Their first prototype failed, forcing them to start all over again. (1) They hope that eventually, their solar-powered tent can be mass-produced so that it can help as many people as possible. (1) This all-girls team is proof that, with the right support and mentorship, girls and women can do anything they set their minds to.