When her two young sons began to develop an interest in robotics, Ashley Lomboy began looking for STEM programs in her area. Lomboy, a member of the Waccamaw Siouan tribe, lives just outside of her tribal community, in Brunswick County. She was surprised to find her options were limited when it came to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academy programs. Lomboy is the division information security manager of optical fiber & cable for Corning Optical Communications LLC in Wilmington. Realizing she could work with others and create an affordable STEM program, Lomboy developed the STEM Studio.

Lomboy says from the beginning, the tribe’s goal was to provide STEM access and enthusiasm to children and the Waccamaw Siouan community who may have not had access before.

The Waccamaw Siouan tribe is located in Bladen and Columbus counties, largely nestled across small communities: Buckhead, St. James, and Council. It’s a rural area located near swampy waters and just down from Lake Waccamaw.

Lomboy has about 10 tribal members who assist her with the STEM Studio, most of whom no longer reside in tribal territory. Instead, they work in STEM fields and partner with community members to increase STEM education in the tribal community.

“We leverage what we know best to give back,” Lomboy stated. Team members specialize in engineering, civil engineering, information technology, mathematics, and more.

Beginning the STEM Studio started with surveying the tribal community to ensure that the group met community needs and wants and to survey the resources they had. From there, they were able to design plans for the STEM Studio.

Read the full article about empowering tribal youth through STEM education by Cheyenne Davis at The 74.