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Technology Student Wins Women’s Aspirations in Computing Award

Kiana Harkema “This is a great opportunity,” said 10th-grader Kiana Harkema, troubleshooting a Wi-Fi connection with a microcontroller board during a computer forensics class Jan. 23 at Falcon High School in District 49.

“We can get so used to buying these types of things,” said Harkema, 14, while developing a secure, remote-controlled camera system with two classmates. “With this, we get the opportunity to build our own project, be the inventors that our generation can be.”

Thomas Russell, Falcon High School technology teacher, purchased the Arduino Yún boards after earning a Student Engagement and Mentoring in Technology grant from the Falcon Education Foundation. He’s using the $1,000 grant to introduce more computer science concepts. Using a Cisco Networking Lab grant, Russell won an auction for switches, routers and wireless routers.

Harkema says advanced technology projects help motivate youth toward science, technology engineering and mathematics careers. With interests in cybersecurity and desktop applications, she’s a CyberPatriot team co-captain and Future Business Leaders of America member.

She recently created Microsoft Office tutorials to offer other students online, self-paced training.

Kiana Harkema “It can be hard to inspire women at a young age into STEM fields,” said Harkema, explaining the inspiration she now feels as a recipient of a Colorado Aspirations in Computing award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Russell wrote her award recommendation.

Recipients were selected based on their aptitude and interest in IT and computing, leadership ability, academic history and their post-secondary education plans, according to the official website at

“It’s a really prestigious award—it’s a great way to inspire young women into technology,” said Harkema, who’ll attend an award ceremony in April, along with two classmates who received runner-up recognitions.

“It opens up a lot of opportunities … You can network with other girls and find out what they’re doing in the technology community.”
Dustin Senger