Ludlam using AstroBot STEM to attract more women to advanced technology

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 2/17/21

FLEMING ISLAND – Kait Ludlam is paving the way for women in the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

When Ludlam was about 8 years old, she went to the Kennedy Space …

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Ludlam using AstroBot STEM to attract more women to advanced technology

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Kait Ludlam is paving the way for women in the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

When Ludlam was about 8 years old, she went to the Kennedy Space Center to see the last shuttle launch at the time there. She witnessed history, learned more about the progress humankind has made in space and saw how NASA’s many different simulations worked. It was there that she decided space was her future.

“I decided that day that I wanted to be an astronaut,” Ludlam said. “There was no question about it. With that in mind, I figured out what I needed to do and where I needed to focus: math and science.”

Ludlam quickly realized in her extracurricular math and science-related activities that it was a field largely dominated by men. That was intimidating, but she persevered. Now she’s an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Florida dual-majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. For a little more than a year, she’s been trying to make the STEM space more friendly for girls and women through her nonprofit dedicated to the cause: AstroBot STEM.

This nonprofit was founded as her Girl Scout Gold project when she was a senior at Fleming Island High with the goal of creating a community for girls interested in STEM.

“It started as social media and a website counterpart to create a community of girls who are interested in STEM,” Ludlam said. “It was important to me to create a support system for other girls and a place for others to teach and learn.”

Ludlam wanted to make sure that if a girl or woman wanted to support or mentor in STEM, AstroBot Stem would be there for them.

“We do a lot now,” Ludlam said. “We have the website and social media for community building and resources and all that...but we do a lot more now too. We have a page for organizations that they can join be it robotics, a math team, Girls Who Code, and more for people that want to get involved.”

That also includes events like the upcoming Introduce a Girl to Engineering event on Feb. 27. The event is a virtual ZOOM event due to COVID-19, and it’s open to anyone for $30. That price gets you the full necessary kit, a T-shirt and more. There still are 12 sponsored spots remaining in Putnam County, so if you sign up, the cost is covered. Ludlam said the Clay County sponsorship slots are taken, but the nonprofit is looking for more sponsorship.

You can sign up at astrobotstem.org/events and more information about the event can be found there, but basically, there will be some STEM women speaking about the field, ways to get involved, how to be a female in the generally male-dominated field.

Ludlam still wants to be an astronaut, but her current goal is to graduate and work on rockets for space.

“It’s all about letting girls know that this field is open for them and that their dreams are open,” Ludlam said. “There are so many opportunities out there. The sky's the limit...well, actually, the sky isn’t the limit anymore because we can go to space and beyond.”

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