Bringing STEM education to high schoolers in Latin America
Written by Nardy Baeza Bickel
BY JOSIE TOLIN
ANN ARBOR — Giuliana Huerta-Mercado, founder and president of United Technologies for Kids (UTK), has created a non government organization responsible for implementing STEM Labs in more than 20 high schools in Peru and Colombia, with support from student volunteers from the University of Michigan, University of California-Berkeley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her mission, however, extends beyond the numbers.
“We want the kids to be aware of the problems their countries face and empower them to do something about it,” said Huerta-Mercado, a senior at U-M. “That’s why, as part of our STEM program, they have to develop a social impact project based on technology to create innovative solutions in their communities.”
A College of Literature, Science, and the Arts student, Huerta-Mercado founded UTK in 2016 when she was a freshman. This Peruvian student was inspired by the wealth of technological resources available at U-M and wanted to share the accessibility in her home country.
“After my first year at Michigan, I realized how privileged I was to be studying at one of the best US universities and wanted to share some of the wonderful educational resources with high school students in Peru,” she said.
It is Huerta-Mercado’s passion for global equity in STEM education that has mobilized college students from across the US to volunteer at UTK’s participating high schools. This economics major said university students can empower high schoolers to discover engineering at a young age.
“Through UTK, we are nurturing the next generation of change agents with the technical and soft skills needed for the 21st century,” Huerta-Mercado said.