When Mini Balachandran immigrated to the U.S. from India as a young woman, she struggled to learn English. But math and science were languages she always understood. Her father, a mechanical engineer, had taught her how to fix broken items around the house, which sparked her interest in engineering. Now Balachandran is the Production Lead for Naval Air Systems Command Manufacturing and Quality Division in Maryland, and in charge of media outreach for a program called STEM-ing that encourages girls to pursue science and engineering careers. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, Inspiring the Next Generation, and that’s exactly what it’s doing.  A group of 13 female scientists and engineers volunteer their time to teach a series of workshops for local girls and visit schools. This year’s event will bring in 140 girls in sixth through eighth grades who can choose to take classes on everything from DNA and veterinary medicine to the science of ship wrecks.
MORE: This Nonprofit Is Teaching Immigrants Much More Than Just Language