By Annie Rosemurgy | Photography by Hillary Schave
When she was young, Stellar Tech Girls founder Marina Bloomer recalls being wildly curious about the world around her. The former aerospace engineer loved math and science — but she also enjoyed reading and writing.
“ … I had early exposure to a wide range of topics. Then, a high school physics course ignited my passion to know how the world works,” explains Bloomer.
This fundamental curiosity and confidence is what Bloomer seeks to foster in Wisconsin’s girls and non-binary kids at Stellar Tech Girls, which hosts STEAM-focused enrichment programs for youth.
To be sure, Bloomer has an impressive engineering resume. She’s a former aerospace engineer, having designed jet engines at GE Aviation and worked at SpaceX, preparing for the launch of NASA astronauts.
When she and her husband decided to lay down roots in Madison, Bloomer’s thoughts turned toward how she could merge her robust engineering background, a desire to do good work and her “fundamentally entrepreneurial spirit.”
She decided to pursue an MBA at UW–Madison, and the idea for Stellar Tech Girls was born during that time. Crucially, Bloomer identified a potential gap in STEAM programming for girls in the Madison area.
“We have great programs for coding and robotics, but I could see that there was a need for hands-on, experiment-focused STEAM education locally,” she says.
Today, Stellar Tech Girls is in its second year of operation, running weeklong summer camps, after- school programming and weekend workshops for girls and non-binary youth ages 9-14. The Stellar Tech Girls model focuses on teaching girls to “think like an engineer.”
“We take a problem that we identify in the world and we create — we actually build ourselves — the solution,” says Bloomer.
For Bloomer, teaching girls to flex their mental muscles, lean into uncertainty and to accept “failure as a fundamental part of the process” is a living expression of both elements — her curiosity and her commitment to the common good.